Montgomery County is experiencing a 30-year homicide record and an increase in carjackings and crimes involving handguns. We need to focus our resources on violent crime.
As far as Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy is willing to go to war with our community over drug distribution and petty shoplifting, but not the violence that truly makes our community less secure.
When he recently had the opportunity to present his policies on the legalization of cannabis during a summit streamed on Facebook, he did not participate.
Instead of tackling the real problems and their root causes, instead of leading by solving problems and creating partnerships with the community and the police, he choose to focus on Silver Spring – an area of our county with notable racial and ethnic diversity – as crime continues to rise across the county.
This mentality is unacceptable, and that’s why I’m running for Montgomery County District Attorney in 2022.
McCarthy’s approach to the recent crime spike in downtown Silver Spring is woefully outdated and flawed. He proposed to have greater oversight across cameras and increased presence of uniformed police, arguing that such efforts would deter theft and drug distribution.
This is a totally wrong approach, and it is likely to do more harm than good. Research and reports show that “crime arrests reflect police presence more than the total number of crimes committed in an area,” according to a piece in the Atlantic.
When we increase police presence and continue to build a culture of incarceration, we increase the number of “criminals” arrested – especially people of color, given the disproportionate impact of policing according to the criteria racial – but we are failing to actually reduce crime.
While we may be putting more people behind bars, we’re not solving the real problems, whether it’s economic insecurity or the lack of proper mental health infrastructure. Increased surveillance, policing and criminalization does nothing to help communities and instead risks perpetuating far too much harm.
We need to work with our community, not treat it as the enemy. My administration will look at the root causes of crime, not just the crime itself, to determine how to keep our community safe.
So far, the McCarthy State’s Attorney’s Office’s so-called “solutions” to reduce crime in downtown Silver Spring have been limited to increased surveillance and a heavy police presence. Not only have these tactics been used before – with disproportionate impacts on communities of color – but they demonstrate a lack of innovation and outreach to the community served by the office.
In fact, many might view the state attorney’s actions as an escalation, which is the wrong approach to keeping our community safe.
To be clear, I support the rule of law and our excellent police officers. They face a difficult and often thankless job. Rhetoric that promotes an “us versus them” mentality only makes their jobs harder and our communities less safe.
My administration will provide community safety and stability without devaluing our community or further undermining confidence in our criminal justice system. Silver Spring deserves respect and our community deserves better.
Tom DeGonia of Olney is running for Montgomery County State’s Attorney.