Notes from the 9 Feb 2011 Park Police meeting
From Ed Murtagh
We had a very informative evening last night at the Park Police Headquarters with Sgt McNeill. Commander Damskey and his team from the 4th district MCPD also attended. So we really talked a lot about crime in our area and what we can do to help. One of the key take home points was when in doubt about anything out of the ordinary in our community; both the Park Police and the 4th District want us to call so they can check it out. They stressed they live in the County too and want their communities crime free as much as we do, but they need our help with our observations. That old stereotype of the police officers who would rather hang out at the donut shop is certainly not the case here. In fact they all looked really fit and ready to get there checking out our observations.
If you see anything that looks wrong or suspicious call 301-279-8000 for the MCPD non-emergency number. If the problem is in the Park, call 301-949-3010 for their non-emergency number. One of things we did last night was make sure these were on our cell phone address books. I recommend that you do this too. Let trained officers check out situations and decide if it is really a problem or not.
Another thing we talked about is the perception of crime in our community and in Wheaton. The historic trends show there has been a big reduction in crime over the past 10 years. In fact our community and the Wheaton area in general is considered one of the safer areas in the County. With our listserv and better communications about what is occurring, has led to the perception that there is a lot of crime now and there was hardly any 10 years ago before we had our listservs.

This is not true. We were just blissfully ignorant about what was occurring. It is also important to be accurate about our description of crime in the community. It does not help nearly as much having it described second hand since the facts tend to change on each re-telling.

One fact I found sobering, there are 410 parks in the County (11% of the County in area) and only 70 Park Police. We can play a meaningful role on keeping our community safe by being observant (we learned about observation techniques last night too!) and reporting potential problems.

A second concern is a bill in Annapolis that could have a detrimental impact on our community. It is a bit confusing, but it involves the Park Police, their property and taxes. Since Sligo Creek Park is such an important part of our community, we need to follow this closely. Here is the bill http://www.montgomerycountydelegation.com/documents/MC-PG112-11.pdf