Montgomery County leaders discuss public safety efforts in Silver Spring

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (DC News Now) – Montgomery County leaders convened at the Silver Spring Civic Building to talk about various safety measures being put in place in downtown Silver Spring to make it a safer place for neighbors to live.

“There is a perception of fearfulness,” Montgomery County Executive, Marc Elrich, said. “A feeling of unsafety and when those perceptions are out there, they become real.”

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Officials say crime increased by 10% countywide last year and because of this, they’ve already started implementing several changes.

“One of our most famous programs is our drone program,” Elrich said. “We have drones in downtown Silver Spring and Wheaton. My budget expands them to Germantown and Bethesda.”

Elrich said more cameras were added into garages and the use of license plate readers have also been expanded.

Montgomery County Council passed legislation on Tuesday that requires hookah lounges and smoke and vape shops to close at certain times.

“If you are an establishment that serves alcohol or serves hookah,” Montgomery County Council Vice President Kate Stewart said. “You will be closing at 2 a.m. during the week, or 3 a.m. on the weekend.”

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One downtown Silver Spring hookah lounge owner says he’s okay with the new law.

“People are not safe after that hour,” Shamil Shemsu said. “Personally, I encourage at least until two o’clock that people enjoy whatever they want.”

But not all county leaders are in favor of the bill.

“I’m concerned that this bill will put small businesses,” Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando said. “Most of them, if not all of them, Black and immigrant-owned, out of business.”

The Late-Night Establishments bill passed on a 10-1 vote.

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