The Kentlands Citizen Assembly Board of Trustees recently asked Gaithersburg Police Department Community Liaison Officer Dan Lane to speak at their monthly meeting in late March.
“In retrospect, it’s probably something we should be doing more frequently,” said Chris Campbell, chairman of the board of trustees, in an interview several days later. “He is the liaison between the police department and the community. It is valuable just to hear the state of crime incidents in the community as well as for the residents to get a chance to speak with him.”
Lane had been previously scheduled to speak at the meeting but the timing was fortuitous. Around the date of the meeting, several local chat rooms began discussing an alleged rape that was reported by a crime website as located in the Kentlands. Lane told the group an individual recently contacted police about an alleged rape that occurred around two years ago elsewhere in the county. The call was made from a location in the Kentlands.
“I think it was enlightening for some of our citizens who really peruse some of those crime websites to understand there is value in some of those things but you need to understand how they gather material,” Campbell said. “You have to get the story behind the incident and not just go off the raw data. Having some of that information was eye opening to myself and I assume to some of our citizens.”
Instead of using general crime sites, Lane encouraged citizens to check the City of Gaithersburg’s website public safety section and the Montgomery County Police Department’s weekly crime summary for information.
The board asked residents to submit questions for Lane. Topics included criteria needed to file a police report, when to use the non-emergency number versus the emergency number and information that officers need when a person witnesses a drug deal.
“We’ve had some residents who have expressed some concerns” regarding some incidents, said Barney Gorin, Kentlands Citizen Assembly president. “We take everything that people tell us very seriously.”
Lane noted that the crime rate in the Kentlands remains around the same as last year. “Public safety is very important,” Gorin said. “We are very conscious of it but we are not seeing some kind of an uptick in activities. … The more everybody understands what’s going on and what can and can’t be done, (and getting) the facts out there, the better off everyone is.”
By attending the meeting, Lane said he was aiming to build a relationship with residents. “This gives us one more opportunity for the community to put a face with the department,” he said.