Chevy Chase communities seek partnership with Montgomery County police
Town seeks additional police services after village ends contract
Villages in Chevy Chase are seeking contracts with the county police department for additional patrol services, after losing supplemental policing from Chevy Chase Village.
Chevy Chase Village dropped at the beginning of July policing contracts with four of its neighbors Section 3, Section 5 and Martin's Additions and Chevy Chase View because of insufficient staff, said Village Police Chief Roy Gordon.
Despite low crime rates, Chevy Chase View, Section 3 and Section 5 are looking to contract with Montgomery County Police Department for similar, part-time policing. They would join the towns of Chevy Chase and Somerset as the only towns or villages in the county to have a contract for additional policing, according to Montgomery County police.
Martin's Additions has decided to forgo additional police services.
"In difficult times like the one we face, we have to just be a little more cautious about what we do ourselves," said Jean Sperling, the village's manager.
Sperling said the board may reconsider contracting police services, if the village sees a spike in crime.
Martin's Additions previously spent about $50,000 a year for 80 hours a month of police services from Chevy Chase Village, Sperling said.
Chevy Chase View is farthest along in their efforts to settle a contract with the county. The town is looking into questions about its insurance coverage, should a resident sue a county officer and the town. Under the contract with the village, the village covered any liability, but the county is self insured and would not protect the town in a lawsuit.
Section 3 and Section 5 are also in talks for county contracts, but are not as far along in the process.
Both villages are seeking police coverage similar to their contracts with Chevy Chase Village 20 hours a month in Section 5 and 16 hours a month in Section 3. Off-duty county police officers would be assigned to patrol the villages.
Michael Greene, a member of the Chevy Chase View council, said the primary reason residents and the board want additional police coverage is to address concerns about pedestrian safety, especially for children walking to and from school, that stem from the town's location along bustling Connecticut Avenue. Residents have also expressed concern about nighttime mischief, such as theft from vehicles.
"We just think, from an anecdotal perspective, just having a little police presence here would cut down on some of these concerns," said Greene, who hopes to have the contract completed in about a month.
Andy Leon Harney, village manager for Section 3, echoed Greene's interest in a greater police presence.
"We do have crime not a great deal of it and we would like the presence of police in our area on a more regular basis," said Andy Leon Harney, village manager for Section 3.
County police said they did not have record of any incidents of homicide, rape, robbery or aggravated assault in Chevy Chase View or any of the other villages in 2009 or 2008.
Theft from a vehicle is the only crime committed with any frequency in Chevy Chase View, Section 5 and Martin's Additions, according to police records. In 2009, there were 16 thefts from vehicles in Chevy Chase View, eight in Section 5, and 11 in Martin's Additions. Two cars were stolen from Section 5 in 2009; in 2008, two were stolen from Chevy Chase View and one from Martin's Additions.
The area is included in regular patrols by the county police department's District 2 officers, said Cpl. Dan Friz, a spokesman for the Montgomery County Police Department.
District 2 includes Chevy Chase, Bethesda and parts of Silver Spring.
But often, municipalities seek supplemental police services for reasons other than high crime rates, Friz said.
"What you're dealing with, really, is the residents their perception and their level of comfort with the available resources," said Friz.
Chevy Chase Village dropped its contracted police services for fiscal 2011, which began July 1, because the police department was unable to meet the demand without additional staff, Gordon said.
The way police contracting is supposed to work, Gordon said, is that village security comes first .
But rarely were the village's neighbors getting all the hours for which they contracted, Gordon said.
Village police had monthly contracts for 40 hours in Chevy Chase View, 20 hours in Section 3, 80 in Martin's Additions and 16 in Section 5.
The department has 10 sworn officers, seven of whom are dedicated to patrol duties. The department previously had nine patrol officers, but after two officers left, one position was eliminated and the other is under a hiring freeze, Gordon said.