Thursday, May 23, 2013 12:37 AM
Published on: Thursday, March 15, 2012
By Christa Puccio
On Thursday, County Executive Isiah Leggett will release his Fiscal Year 2013 operating budget proposal, one which he said will include an increase in police officers.
“You can't have effective community policing if you don't have enough police in the first place to be effective in the community,” said Leggett. “The question will not be whether you will see a movement, but how long will it take and what will be the number that we’ll shoot for each year.”
After the 6th District police station construction was delayed and a “several” high-profile crimes were committed in Montgomery Village, Leggett and Councilmember Craig Rice met with more than 100 residents and business owners at Watkins Mill High School to address crime issues in the Montgomery Village area.
Councilmember Craig Rice said the best way to reduce crime is for citizens to stay actively engaged in their community. “The purpose of the meeting was to connect key community stakeholders to the fight against crime to preserve our neighborhoods and protect our families,” said Rice. “I think we were able to explain the status of our police operations in the Village, and I know we all learned quite a bit about what most concerned the residents and business owners in this area. Now, we all have to take what we learned and work together to keep Montgomery Village the place so many people have loved for a very long time.”
Also at the meeting were Police Chief J. Thomas Manger; Captain Willie Parker-Loan, commander of the 6th Police District; and Upcounty Regional Services Center Director Cathy Mathews.
Leggett and Manger both have not released how many police officers will be requested in the executive’s CIP. “The 6th District station doesn’t have its own general detective division, they share with the 5th District,” said Manger. “In my opinion, that’s an area we need to add some resources.”
Commander Willie Parker-Loan said the proposed delay in construction of a new 6th District police station will not affect the response time by the Police Department because responses to calls are dispatched to officers who are already on patrol in the vehicles and not from the police station.
Leggett said that three years ago the county’s master plan indicated an increase in the police force by 250 officers, but that did not happen. His plan for this year’s budget is to include an effort to get the county back on track. “Originally it was designed as a five year plan to add 50 officers per year,” said Leggett. “But, because of the economy and restraints on the budget, we had to suspend them. I indicated to the chief about 4 months ago that wanted him to develop a new staffing plan that would get us back on track to originally what we had indicated in the Master Plan.”
Manger agrees with Leggett that Montgomery County needs more police officers. “If we look at it per capita, we’re the lowest of any department in the region,” said Manger.
Police emphasize not to hesitate to report suspicious incidents and situations so they can investigate and possibly prevent crime before it happens. Non-emergency situations can be reported by calling 301-279-8000. To report a crime tip and remain anonymous, call 240-773-8477.