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Should Residents Be Concerned about Crime in Wheaton?

Should Wheaton residents be concerned about crime in the area as a result of some high profile incidents in the last 6-9 months? Wheaton resident Henriot St. Gerard attempts to answer this question.

 

Earlier this month, a man was in Montgomery County. One of these incidents occurred less than 3 miles from my home in Wheaton. This latest crime follows the recent and a While neither of these episodes is connected to the other, I wonder how concerned I should be about crime in Wheaton and what our law enforcement officials are doing about it.

As a husband and father of an 18-month-old, the safety of my family is a top priority. Growing up in the Colesville section of Silver Spring, crime was almost nonexistent.  This, along with our school system, were some of the selling points for living and raising a family in Montgomery County. When my wife and I chose Wheaton to buy our first home, crime was the least of our concerns because of the reputation of the county. Since settling in Wheaton and becoming more involved in the community, my sentiments have slightly changed.

To be fair, crime in Montgomery County is still very low. The latest available crime statistics show that total crime in the county is down 8 percent year over year as of third quarter 2011. While total crime in the 4th District, which covers Wheaton, is also down, robberies are up almost 24 percent for the year and aggravated assault increased 6 percent in the third quarter compared to 2010.  When I couple these statistics with the planned redevelopment of the Wheaton area, I begin to worry about the area’s readiness to address these issues as the area begins to see an increase in population growth as a result of development in the next few years.

My concerns were validated with a recent article in the Wheaton Patch that discussed the to meet population growth throughout Montgomery County. The article in question specifically cited Wheaton as one of the areas in need of an increase in “urban style of policing” to meet the changing dynamics of the area brought on by redevelopment.  As Wheaton begins to grow and attract more affluent residents in the next few years, the area is going to have to be prepared to properly police and protect its citizens.

By no means am I trying to paint a bleak picture or predict a day when we’ll have massive crime in Wheaton. I still believe that compared to other counties and areas I have lived in that my family and I are safe. As an active member of the community and observer of the change going on in Wheaton, I want to make sure that we make the necessary preparations for the challenges law enforcement will face as redevelopment occurs in our area.

It is not too early to begin and lay the foundation for increasing and training our police force. Long-range planning can begin now and, while I understand that the county is under budget constraints, I hope that law enforcement and the Montgomery County Council can at least begin to implement some small and inexpensive steps that lead to the eventual increase in resources required to protect citizens in the future.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Henriot St. Gerard February 10, 2012 at 03:48 AM
My article wasnt aimed at casting blame on any one group of people or individuals. I simply want to bring attention to the fact that the area has had some recent high profile crime and wondered out loud if this is something we should concern ourselves about. The recent episode of an attempted robbery at the Capitol One bank is another unfortunate case that adds to my point that residents should start raising their voices about this issue
TaL February 10, 2012 at 01:44 PM
@ Sean--- Including quality of life crimes (public intoxication etc) Wheaton's CBD had 126 offenses last month, Silver Spring around 110 (hard to define the CBD with the map tool I have) and Bethesda 57.
TaL February 10, 2012 at 01:53 PM
This is annoying that you cant reply to comments....but Henriot- Your original article may not have been assigning blame, but the first thing that comes up with the question "why is crime higher in East County" is how is the population of East County different from the lower crime areas of the county? High profile crime stems from constant low profile crime....why do we have constant low profile crime (loitering, public intoxication, petty theft, etc) Because no matter how many cops you want to hire, if you concentrate all your poor and unemployed/unemployable in a single area they will sit around all day drinking, smoking weed and stealing whatever they can get their hands on. Cure the concentration, cure the problem
AntonFisher February 10, 2012 at 11:48 PM
Also remember that Whaton CBD has a fraction of the foot traffic Silver Spring Bethesda CBDs have.
Commentous November 05, 2012 at 09:19 PM
It looks like crime is expanding rapidly in our neighborhoods as compared to just 9 months ago. The latest crime report for Wheaton was probably the worst I've seen, excluding ones that have homicides: six armed robberies and three residential burglaries in one week! It's depressing, especially as politicians simultaneously focus on the Purple Line and on keeping rents low in Wheaton for renters and for businesses around the Triangle, goals which impede redevelopment. And for all the talk of eclectic business, please walk down Bethesda's streets. There are eclectic, small businesses all over the place. The difference is that most of them serve people with disposable incomes. It's not just a bunch of chain restaurants, even if some of the upscale chains allowed other businesses to come. I favor small businesses generally, but--as a homeowner-resident--I favor the types of small businesses that will help Wheaton prosper. I do not favor five of the same types of businesses in a half-mile radius or numerous check cashing places or laundromats. These types of businesses may be favored by some other groups, which is understandable. But that's why I write as a homeowner-resident: So my views are expressed, even if ignored. If Wheaton at, and north of, the mall doesn't change for the better soon, it will change for the worse. The most recent police report says a lot more about the state of Wheaton than do our politicians.

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