Three themes pervaded a two-hour forum tonight at Watkins Mill High School prompted by a rash of armed robberies late last year: manpower, dialogue and perception.
Next week, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett's fiscal 2013 operating budget will fund a "significant" (though as-yet-unspecified) boost in officers for the 6th District over the next three years. In the short-term, 6th District commander Capt. Willie Parker-Loan has authorized overtime pay to put more boots on the ground in Montgomery Village starting this weekend.
Parker-Loan implored the 100-plus attendees to help him segue Wednesday night's forum into a series of talks about crime trends and what residents are seeing in their neighborhoods. The 6th District will also embark on a campaign to spark new Neighborhood Watches and revive dormant ones.
Crime statistics showing a drop in nearly every category are a “benchmark” for police progress, Leggett said, but not the ultimate measure of success: “That’s not the measure that I would want us to ultimately judge by. ... Not only must we drive the numbers down … we have to change the perception of the way people feel and believe in our community, as well. That’s the standard I look to.”