Police chief discusses youth safety in Silver Spring -- Gazette.Net







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In the year since a huge fight involved 80 young people in downtown Silver Spring, security has improved, officials told residents Monday.

Since the start of the year, Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger told the Silver Spring’s Citizen Advisory Board that his department has increased patrols in the area. Silver Spring detectives alone have applied for and received 72 search warrants and 160 arrest warrants on top of the warrants approved for regular patrol officers, he said.

“We’re not having the kinds of issues that we had last year,” Manger said. “It’s good. Things are good.”

Assistant State’s Attorney George E. Simms III said there were 3,568 juvenile arrests and 603 total delinquent findings in the county in 2011. Also, 401 cases were placed on probation last year.

Since then, his office has worked with the Department of Health and Human Services, Montgomery County Public Schools and the Department of Recreation to improve the academic performance and reduce risk factors of delinquency for children in the John F. Kennedy High School cluster. In fiscal 2012, the pilot project served 53 families.

“I think we are in a better place than we were last year. We are learning to deal with the issues in a different way,” said Evan Glass, chair for the Citizen Advisory Board.

After having its budget cut by about 28 percent about three years ago, the Department of Recreation was forced to stop summer and weekend/night programs to make way for after-school programs from 2 to 6 p.m., director Gabriel Albornoz said. Since then, County Executive Ike Leggett has helped to initiate a summer youth employment program, which put 60 to 100 youths in positions at the Department of Recreation and other sister agencies to get them involved in the community and off the street.

The Department of Recreation is the largest provider of out-of-school county programs, Albornoz said. Their Teen Cafe runs Friday nights at the Long Branch Community Center in Silver Spring from 7 p.m. to midnight during the school year. The first event had an attendance of 28 and by the next week, the program grew to 128 participants. They are trying to replicate this in other parts of the county.

“We struggled to maintain our core level of services,” Albornoz said. “We are really trying to back some of the programs we’ve lost.”