December 2021 Update

Hi Friends,

Just wanted to check in with a few updates before the holidays come...

Building Better Community Policing

Last year, we talked about trying to cooperate with our neighboring jurisdictions to create economies of scale that would enable additional investments in community policing. This year, we’re making it happen.

As communicated out earlier in the year, I had begun working with Brentwood Councilperson Marcus Monroe to start discussions on how we could partner to fund mental health services modeled on Eugene, Oregon's CAHOOTS program. Those conversations evolved over time, with North Brentwood's Charles Wiley and Hyattsville's Danny Schaible partnering with Marcus to lead those efforts. More recently, Mayor Benitez put in the work, with our own Chief Alston, to formalize our partnership with Hyattsville and Brentwood on a successful grant application that will bring $230,000 to our cities to form a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT). The funding will enable our municipalities  to hire a licensed mental health practitioner to respond with CIT-certified law enforcement officers to the scene of extreme behavioral health crises calls. Special thanks to Mayor Benitez and Chief Alston for putting in most of the work here.

Chief Alston also worked to become a part of the  Prince George’s County Family Justice Center's (PGFJC) efforts to expand support for victims of domestic abuse. Specifically, PGFJC will use newly awarded funding totaling $978,436 to extend its hours of operation and open 7 new satellite offices - including one in Mount Rainier - to provide accessible services to residents who are in crisis and need help escaping abusive conditions. 

The partnership agreement tasks our officers with helping to facilitate getting victims to feel comfortable enough to talk with PGFJC, either virtually or in person, with PGFJC then providing victims with, “Holistic, client-centered domestic violence intervention and support to survivors.”

These efforts come on the heels of one of our officers, Detective Sargent David Hallow, receiving a “Super Hero” award from the State’s Attorney. You can watch his one on one interview with our State's Attorney, Aisha Braveboy, at (caution: the conditions in which the survivor was living are disturbing and discussed). If anyone would like to thank Detective Hallow for his work, you can email him at [email protected].

A few years ago, when we reorganized our police department from a patrol-based to community-based model of policing, we created the Detective position. This makes those decisions worth it. If you would like to talk to our police about anything at all, Chief Alston is happy to listen and welcomes the opportunity to build relationships with the community. Please feel free to email him at [email protected].

ARPA Spending…

We are chugging along in conversations about spending ARPA funding. So far, we’ve tagged spending for:

  • Food security
  • Business assistance
  • Vaccine incentives
  • School aid:
    • Outdoor classrooms at Thomas Stone and Mount Rainier
    • Arte Para Todos classes at Joe’s
  • Stormwater improvements:
    • Perry and 31st
    • Perry and 33rd
  • Upgrading Richardson Park.

In many of these instances, there are more details; for others, there’s more to be done. Email me if you want the details.

That said, we still have not allocated the majority of the $5.4 million we are receiving, which means there is still lots of time to email [email protected] your thoughts on how we spend this money (that email address will send your thoughts to the Mayor and all councilmembers).

Holiday Events…

I hope my idea of putting what you most wanted to know – when Santa will come – at the bottom of this email, I will have convinced you to have read through the newsletter. If it did, ha!

But I digress. The Mayor is leading several efforts this year to celebrate the holidays:

  • December 17th – help with the Holiday Basket Distribution.
  • December 18th – take a picture with Santa, and turn on your holiday lights for the Parade of Lights event from 6-9pm, sponsored by the Recreation Committee.
  • December 19th – the big guy from the North Pole rides on a fire truck to the delight of all! At around 6pm, start listening for the sound of Santa's giant red motorized sleigh...

Hope you all get some peace and rest this holiday season as well. I know that’s my goal.

Be Well,