Hoping to rein in late-night crime in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich is proposing that certain late-night businesses adopt police-approved safety plans.
Elrich unveiled the proposal Monday afternoon at the Civic Center in Silver Spring, flanked by Chief of Police Marcus Jones, District 4 Council member Kate Stewart and representatives from the business community.
Downtown Silver Spring has seen a rash of crimes in recent weeks, including car jackings and the shooting death of a man in a parking garage just days before Christmas.
“The legislation will make certain that key businesses open after midnight, in identified areas of the county, are part of the solution. These businesses will work with police on items ranging from security personnel and training to exterior lighting, graffiti removal and security cameras,” Elrich said.
Under Elrich’s plan, businesses would be targeted for mandatory safety regulations based on crime data, and the requirements could include business-provided 24-hour video monitoring with high-definition digital cameras of entrances, exits and areas where cash registers are located.
In addition, there could be requirements for sufficient outdoor lighting and regulations governing the tint on window glass so the interior can be viewed from the outside.
“Affected businesses that refuse to comply will receive a daily fine … and I fully intend, if you do not follow the rules, that we will shut them down,” Elrich said.
Police chief Jones said the downtown area is currently under increased police patrols. He added that surveillance camera coverage has been expanded and automated license plate readers have been deployed. Jones said that some late-night businesses are obtaining hand-held metal detectors to keep out guns.
“Prevention is the key. It’s not that we want to wait until a crime is occurring, we want to be out in front to make sure individuals know that we take people’s safety very seriously in this county … we want individuals who are living in downtown Silver Spring to have peace when they go to sleep at night,” Jones said.
A leading figure representing the business community spoke in favor of the proposal.
“We’re committed to working with police, to working with the county to make Silver Spring a safe, comfortable, welcoming place for everyone who lives, works and visits here,” said Jane Redicker, president of the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce.
The legislation still must undergo scrutiny by the county council, but it’s won early support from Council member Stewart, who said a grant program could be created to help some businesses offset the costs.
“I want to make sure that Silver Spring continues to be a place where young people, families, older folks, everyone feels safe to come and enjoy everything we have here,” Stewart said.