Nearly half of the questions Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett answered in an interactive chat Wednesday, Oct. 24 came from Silver Spring residents.
The full transcript of the discussion is available online here. See what Leggett told two Silver Spring residents about police response to specific crime concerns in their areas.
Issue: Vandalism, break-ins in the Woodside neighborhood of Silver Spring
"Street crime is increasing in our Woodside neighborhood," said Sara from Silver Spring. "Most of the crime involves property but there have been physical attacks as well. Turning on our house lights at night (always recc'd by the police) is not detering vandalism, break-ins or physical threats. How can we get the MOCO police to patrol more visibly and more often?"
Thank you for your question. I appreciate that you are concerned about a possible increase in crime in your neighborhood. We need our residents to take an active role in keeping our communities safe. In this year's budget, I increased the number of sworn officers by 40. This is part of a multi-year plan to increase our force by a total of 145 officers over the next two fiscal years. We checked with the 3rd Police District. In the past six months, there was one aggravated assault and that was between two people known to one another and the suspect was arrested. There were two residential burglaries, one commercial burglary, and one drug-related crime. The most common crime reported in your community was theft from auto, with seven reports of that occurring during this time.
Given these numbers, I am fully committed to reducing crimes to even lower levels, and this is why I added the additional police officers to our force. Of course everyone wants to feel safe in their communities and any crime can be upsetting to residents, but no community is immune from crime. Each police district's command staff regularly does an assessment of where the most crimes are occurring in their districts and deploys more resources to those areas. It is important that community members report crimes to police. Some crimes such as vandalisms may go unreported. Each of our police districts has a Community Outreach Officer. That officer in the 3rd District is Officer Joy Patil. Please contact her through the 3rd District Station at 301-565-7744 if you want to discuss your concerns further. Again, thank you for your interest in keeping your neighborhood safe.
Issue: Unruly customers on Ride On buses and no system to communicate customer concerns about the bus routes.
"I have been on Ride On buses when customers have refused to pay bus fare and have literally spit on a driver or are so aggressive that police have to be called," Debra from Silver Spring. "You also have passengers that ride the bus who have some type of mental illness or are inebriated. The police can never arrive fast enough when violence occurs. This has become a common occurrence on various routes in Silver Spring/Wheaton/Glenmont within the past few years.
"I asked Chief Biggins and Mr. Wells a few years ago how are they going to protect drivers and passengers when situations like these occur. I've never received a response other than we're aware and working on it, waiting over two years and counting for that response. Does Ride On have an official mission statement? If not one needs to be created and we the public need to know what it is. Also, can we start having public forums where customers can address concerns/issues for all routes and just not ones that are going to downsized or termin [sic]"
Thank you for your question and the thoughtful suggestions you have provided. I will follow up with the Director of Transportation, Ms. Biggins and the Police Department to determine how we can best address your concerns. I am sorry that you haven't received a more specific response prior to this. Your suggestion about a public forum is a good one, and we will look into it.
What do you think of the county executive's answers? What would you have asked Leggett about Silver Spring?