UPDATED: Leggett Proposes Additional 43 Police Officers For County FY13 Budget
The proposal of an additional 43 officer positions in the FY13 budget came with the announcement of a plan to increase police staffing by 143 officers over the next three years.
Montgomery County can look forward to an increased police presence next year, if the county executive’s proposed operating budget is approved.
In response to pleas for additional police staffing from the Montgomery County Police Department, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) announced Thursday a plan for the addition of 143 officers to the department over the next three years. Leggett’s FY13 proposal increases the police department’s budget by 7 percent, including 58 new positions in the police department – 43 of which are officers.
As Montgomery County government works through the approval of a FY13 operating budget, Patch asked Montgomery County Police Department what it hopes to accomplish with Leggett's proposed 7% budget increase.
According to Cpt. Paul Starks, spokesman for Montgomery County Police, the three year staffing plan may include the addition of Police Community Action Teams in each police district, as well as additional detectives placed in the 1st, 2nd and 6th districts.
The county SRO program will be maintained at six officers between six districts, Starks said.
“This is an annual process that we plan for each year," Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger said. "There are components of the police department we would like to expand but this provides us the resources to continue to provide the community excellent police service while maintaining our primary goals of responding to emergencies and investigating crime.”
Before any real staffing plans are set, the proposed budget will go to the Montgomery County Council for debate and approval.
"The County Council's Public Safety Committee will spend the next
several weeks carefully reviewing the Executive’s proposed budgets for police..." said Councilmember and Public Safety Committee Chair Phil Andrews (D-Dist 3) of Gaithersburg in a statement. "My colleagues on the Public Safety Committee and I look forward to hearing comments from the public about the Executive’s proposals, including at the public hearings on the Proposed FYl3 Operating Budget in April."
A three-year increase of 143 officers would bring the ratio of MCPD sworn officers to civilians to just under 1.34. Currently Montgomery County has one of the lowest ratios of sworn officers to civilian residents of surrounding jurisdictions, and all sections within the department are feeling the strain. At 1.19 sworn officers to every 1,000 residents, the county is far below the national average of 2.7 officers per every 1,000 residents.
County staffing numbers receive a little boost from the municipalities of Rockville, Takoma Park, Chevy Chase and Gaithersburg, which bring the county ratio of sworn officers per 1,000 residents to 1.38.
Montgomery County Police Department had made up 15 percent of the county’s total budget in recent years, even with the millions in cutbacks it has seen since the recession started. The county allotted $232.4 million of the county operating budget to the department for fiscal year 2012.