District lines may be redrawn. Again.
Not for Montgomery County Council, nor for Congress. This time police district lines are getting the ol’ heave-ho.
The Montgomery County Police Department is studying station workloads and working with command staff to see what district boundaries would work best, police officials said Tuesday.
“Everything is still in discussion; we're discussing it with the command staff and crime analysis and our communications folks,” county police Lt. Darren Francke said. “But it could all change next week."
Police had considered putting new district lines in place by May 1, but projects, including opening new the Public Safety Headquarters in Gaithersburg and , put plans on hold, Francke said.
“Anytime you do a redistricting, part of the goal is to help balance the workload among the districts,” he said. “But because of Montgomery County's unique geography and makeup—we range from urban to suburban—it's a little complicated."
The department’s 3rd and 4th police districts, covering Silver Spring and Wheaton, are the busiest in the county. Germantown’s 5th District is one of the quietest, though expected population increases may change crime activity in the future. These areas could see changes in coverage lines to even out workloads, Francke said.
The 1st District station, which covers Potomac, North Potomac, Darnestown and Rockville, is schedule to move in May to the new Public Safety Headquarters at 100 Edison Park Drive in Gaithersburg. brings Montgomery County Police Headquarters, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services, the office of Homeland Security and parts of the transportation department under one 408,000-square-foot roof.
"The move of the [1st District] station is a pretty major move, so we want to make sure for the 1st District that the boundaries make sense for the areas surrounding," Francke said.
The new 1st District station won't be operational until later this summer, said 1st District Commander James Fenner, and redistricting should come sometime after that—maybe fall or later.
“I’m not sure how the redistricting will affect us,” Fenner said. “But it’s unlikely that it will be done before we move. Chief [J. Thomas Manger] and the assistant chief are adamant about getting it as close to perfect as we can.”