Md. police chief: School security in place, but still limitations

WASHINGTON — At Rockville High School, where a 14-year-old girl was raped on March 16, there are five security staffers and a school resource officer. But that doesn’t guarantee safety for all students, Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger said. 

“These high schools are big schools,” he said. “And yes, they have security cameras. Yes, they have a security staff. But anyone who thinks that something like this could not possibly happen just doesn’t understand the size of the schools and the limitations that you have with your security staff.”

“They just can’t be everywhere all the time,” he added.

Two students — 18-year-old Henry Sanchez-Milian and 17-year-old Jose Montano — have been charged with first-degree rape and two counts of first-degree sexual offense.

The immigration status of at least one of the suspects, Sanchez-Milian, has put this attack in the national spotlight. Sanchez-Milian is a Guatemalan citizen who had entered the U.S. illegally, according to a spokesman with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He had been questioned by Border Patrol in Texas back in August and had been issued a notice to appear before an immigration judge. (That appearance, an ICE spokesman said, is “currently waiting to be scheduled.”)

For Montano, a minor being charged as an adult, comments by Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett have indicated that he had an ICE order against him as well.

ICE has listed Montgomery County as a jurisdiction that limits cooperation, making it the target of criticism in light of the ongoing national dialogue on immigration.

But Manger said such jurisdictional policy is irrelevant to the case.

“Our policy with regard to immigration would’ve had no impact whatsoever on this case,” he said, noting that the suspects had no prior contact with Montgomery County police.

“And as far as we can tell, had no criminal record in this country,” Manger said.

The chief said that residents “who think we should be a sanctuary jurisdiction” and residents “who believe that we should be engaging in immigration enforcement” both don’t like the current policy.

“But the fact is that neither one of those extremes is going to make for effective public safety in Montgomery County,” he said.

The vast majority of people arrested in Montgomery County, Manger added, are residents.

And the number of arrested people ICE has taken custody of (upon ICE’s request and upon the issuance of a warrant or other legal document) has declined over the past five years, he said.

Jack Pointer

Jack contributes to when he's not working as the afternoon/evening radio writer.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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