Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner speaks during a hearing on the possible elimination of the county's park police. To his right is councilman Phil Andrews.
By Matt Bush
Tempers are flaring over the possible elimination of the park police in Montgomery County, Maryland. Budget pressure is the reason county executive Isiah Leggett wants to merge the park police with the county's police department. But the Fraternal Order of Police lodge that represents the park police is offering its own plan. They would merge the park police forces of both Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties. Greg Matthews, the president of FOP lodge 30, says Leggett's plan does more than just make parks less safe.
"Over 70 officers may be fired under his plan, due to rank or entry level qualifications. Park police who are folded into Montgomery County police may have their salaries reduced up to 75 percent."
It was the timing, not the substance, of the FOP's plan that raised the ire of county councilman Marc Elrich.
"Apparently, nobody was motivated to figure out how to save some serious money until the threat was that there may be some other consequence which is really dire and nobody was interested in. This is a really terrible way to run a government," says Elrich.
Leggett claims his proposal would save the county $2 million dollars.