Montgomery County Police Department Chief J. Thomas Manger met with community residents at a Safe Silver Spring community meeting Tuesday to discuss what the department is doing and plans to do to keep the community safe.
He said the police department will add more than 100 new officers over three years.
Montgomery County’s police force currently has around 1,200 officers, he said.
The department added 34 new officers in fiscal year 2013, Manger said, and will get 35 more in 2014 and hopefully around 40 in 2015.
“We need every single one,” he said, adding that the new officers would go to high-crime areas and in high schools around the county as school resource officers (SROs).
He said the highest rates of crime take place in downtown Germantown, Montgomery Village, the Wheaton/Aspen Hill area, downtown Silver Spring and the White Oak/Briggs Chaney area.
The number of SROs would double, from six to 12, he said. He hopes that someday, there can be an officer in every high school and every middle school, he said.
Manger also talked about the efforts to pass gun safety and gun control legislation.
Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut was doing everything right before a mass shooting there in December, he said.
“He blew out a window and walked into the school,” Manger said of the shooter.
He said the MCPD has a great relationship with Montgomery County Public Schools and school security is handled well.
Eventually, he said, he hopes county schools will buzz visitors in via an intercom.
“There’s not a parent alive who doesn’t want, when they drop their kid off at school, to feel that their child is going to be safe,” he said.
Manger also detailed MCPD’s efforts to prevent gun violence.
Of the 700 guns confiscated by county police, 103 were taken from people deemed to be a threat to others or themselves, he said, stressing the need for background checks.
The county received 6,718 calls related to domestic violence, he said, though the actual number of incidents was probably two to five times higher due to unreported incidents.
The county uses a Lethality Assessment Tool to try to reduce the number of homicides related to domestic violence.
“We’ve seen the numbers really go down, he said.”
Overall crime was up .1 percent in 2012, he said, but serious crimes, such as assaults, robberies and burglaries, were down by nearly 5 percent, he said.
Manger also said that the county had agreed to absorb the cost of the downcounty gang unit, which costs $500,000 to 600,000.
There have been no gang homicides since 2010, he said.
“You’ve got to get in the neighborhoods,” he said, speaking of the department’s efforts to use foot patrols, bike patrols and bilingual officers to keep crime down.
He also addressed the recent spate of pedestrian collisions, reminding attendees that both pedestrians and drivers have a responsibility to look out for their safety.