Budget Part 5: Investing in Public Safety
July 13, 2022
Keeping our community safe is my priority. That is why I was proud to support a set of smart investments in public safety in this year’s budget. This email describes the progress we are pushing towards.
I am also heartened to have played a role moving forward on important measures that will strengthen a culture of accountability and excellence in our public safety mission — because everyone deserves to feel safe, not just some of us.
In that spirit, I am happy to report considerable progress in this year’s budget.
The Police Department’s budget is going up this year, continuing our long-term trend of investing in public safety. My colleagues and I appropriated more than $296 million to the Police Department, a 4.5% increase year-over-year.
This record investment allows us to:
- Create 24 new positions in the Police Department across various disciplines including, sworn officers, emergency communications, IT, Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) requests, crossing guards, and body worn camera reviews.
- Increase salaries for police officers to improve our competitiveness with neighboring jurisdictions, helping our recruitment and retention efforts.
- Add 300 body worn cameras, replace mobile video cameras and provide less lethal protective instruments such as pepper ball guns.
To promote school safety, the Council added funding to stand up wellness centers in every County high school, where we’ll provide violence prevention teams and mental and physical health services.
These investments are complemented by our recent action to stand up the Police Accountability Board, which will be responsible for handling complaints alleging police misconduct. This new board will bring full transparency to the disciplinary system — which has been problematic for many years.
With the new accountability board, I know that we will improve public support for our police officers, who put themselves on the line to keep us safe.
Fire and Rescue
Likewise, the Fire and Rescue Department’s budget will see significant increases this upcoming year. At $251 million, an 8% increase year-over-year, the Department’s budget will support the following initiatives:
- 33 new positions added to address advanced lifesaving (ALS) deployment, emergency medical services (EMS) capacity, structural deficits and provide fiscal accountability for the new State Emergency Service Transporter Supplemental Payment Program (ESPP). The ESPP will also provide significant annual funding on an ongoing basis, with projected revenues reaching $11 million for FY23.
- Increased wages for fire and rescue employees, to not only recognize these employees incredible service during the pandemic but also ensure we remain competitive in our ability to recruit new hires.
As always, please let me know your questions or comments at Councilmember.Riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov.