Monday, April 26, 2010

Hanson Blasts Leggett’s Proposed Police Consolidation

In a blistering letter sent to the County Council, outgoing Planning Chair Royce Hanson is blasting a new proposal by County Executive Ike Leggett to consolidate the county’s Police Department with M-NCPPC’s Park Police. Hanson’s opposition to the proposal is not unusual, but the blunt language in his letter certainly is!

In his latest round of proposed budget cuts, Leggett estimated that “consolidated command, combined call dispatch and redeployment of Park Police officers” would save $2 million. Hanson disagrees, saying the proposal “is bad public policy and management,” “imperils the safety of park users, especially in down-county parks” and will not save any money. Hanson calls the proposal “another attempt by the Executive to wrest power over the park system and park land.” Hanson claims that the average cost of a Park Police work year is $101,000 compared to the $117,000-123,000 average cost of a county police work year. He says, “There has been no underlying analysis of the assumptions used to reach the purported savings nor any impact statement.” Translation: Hanson thinks the $2 million number is pure fiction.

Hanson summarizes his position with this statement:

The proposal is a first step toward destruction of a great park system, and ultimately, the [Park and Planning] Commission. The Executive has made no secret of his interest in taking control of the parks. Even though it is clear that the only way money might be actually saved through a merger of Commission functions and County functions is through a merger of the [county’s] Department of Recreation into the [Commission’s] Department of Parks. Such a merger was accomplished 40 years ago in Prince George’s County. The result is a far richer recreation program than we have in Montgomery County. By dismembering the Park Police the predictable result will be a decline in park safety, which will then be used as an excuse for transferring the entire department and its management of all of the County’s parkland to the Executive. This will place 10% of the County’s land area that has been acquired over the years and dedicated to active and passive parks, conservation areas, and environmentally protected areas under direct political control, rather than in the trust of the independent Park and Planning Commission. This is a result that I shall oppose with every bit of energy and resolve I can muster.
We reproduce the entire letter below.