Recently, I responded to a constituent who wrote to me about the rise in gang activity. Following is my response.
Public safety is a top priority of local government. The increase in gang-related activity in the district is of great concern.
The County has a multi-departmental approach to gangs, which includes prevention, intervention, and suppression. Last week, the Public Safety Committee held a worksession focused on law enforcement’s role, which is primarily suppression. You can read additional information about the Committee worksession and suppression strategies in the committee packet.
In addition to Police, HHS, MCPS, and Recreation, among others, work more on the prevention and intervention side of the issue. These efforts include more positive programming that give kids healthier and safe alternatives to gang involvement, as well as programs, like the Street Outreach Network, that help individuals leave gangs.
I’m also including the packet for the last Joint Education/HHS/Public Safety Committee update held last summer, that touches on all these initiatives.
Finally, here’s a recent interview with Captain Paul Liquorie who is leading the centralized street gang unit. He discusses the role of law enforcement, collaboration with different county departments, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and other federal agencies to successfully prosecute criminal offenders.
Today the County Council voted 6-3 for my motion to “table” the County Executive’s proposed youth curfew.
Since the curfew was first proposed in July, Montgomery County has significantly increased its police presence in certain hot spot areas where troubling incidents have occurred.
The result of this increase in police staffing has been remarkable: According to MCPD data, while in previous years we averaged 6 robberies per month, now we are averaging 1.5. In other words, crime has fallen to less than a third of what it was in downtown Silver Spring.
These facts on the ground have changed my view of the need for a proposed curfew at this time. At the same time, I cannot rule out the possible need for a curfew down the road. That is why I proposed to keep it “on the shelf” by tabling it. I think that is the right position for the county now.
I will continue to monitor the facts on the ground closely and do everything I can to make our community safe for our kids and all residents; and I will continue to view a youth curfew as a measure of last resort.
Thank you for weighing in on this important community issue. I will keep looking for practical ways to have a positive impact and I will look to you to help me achieve it. In addition, public safety will be one of the many issues discussed at my Town Hall Solutions Forum on Monday, December 12 at 7pm in Richard Montgomery High School‘s cafeteria.
Today I continued working on my open government project. I am trying to figure out how to tackle our county’s digital strategy. My plan is to do a general review of what we are doing and then make some specific recommendations for improvement, working closely with our excellent Department of Technology Services. I also met with a police officer to talk about morale in the force. We have made some tough decisions affecting our police officers this year and while I am fully confident in all of my votes, I am concerned the rank-and-file officers are not hearing that their county government stands behind them. People who put their lives on the line shouldn’t have to wonder if they are valued by the county government or, by implication, the residents they serve so well.