Former Montgomery County Councilmember and Gaithersburg resident Phil Andrews, whose Democratic primary run for county executive against incumbent Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and former county executive Doug Duncan ended in defeat last August, has landed a new position serving the residents of Montgomery County.
On Dec. 15, Andrews joined the staff of Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy. As a member of the prosecutor’s office’s community outreach team, Andrews will focus on bringing crime prevention initiatives to the public.
Andrews, who is not an attorney, will join others in McCarthy’s office in community outreach to solve public safety problems, prevent crime and build public confidence in the justice system.
Among the programs Andrews will be involved in are efforts to educate senior citizens who may be victims of cybercrime and other scams such as home improvement fraud.
At the middle school level, Andrews will be part of a truancy intervention program that has been ongoing in 10 MCPS middle schools since 2010. Also impacting school-age individuals, Andrews will be active in programs promoting Internet safety, and efforts to eliminate cyberbullying and to prevent domestic abuse in teen relationships.
“I will also be working with the ‘Choose Respect’ (CR) initiative, a (public/private partnership) program that is run out of the Montgomery County Sherriff’s Office. The State’s Attorney’s office is a very active participant as well.” Targeted toward middle and high school students, unlike programs that address the results of domestic abuse, the CR curriculum is designed to help girls and boys avoid situations that could lead to abusive relationships.
In addition to his participation in community outreach programs, Andrews will be part of the State’s Attorney’s Office participation in a cross-departmental/inter-agency effort to address and alleviate the mental health crisis in the justice system.
“The problem is becoming more pronounced by the month. We see it very clearly in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility (Clarksburg), where a growing percentage of individuals have acute mental illness, but there are no beds for them at the state level in the numbers that are needed,” he said. “Where there used to be about 1500 beds for acutely mentally ill people in the state, now there are about 160.”
Andrews said the problem is growing, although efforts by jail administration to work with the problem have been “fantastic.”
Andrews was chair of the County Council’s Public Safety Committee for 14 of his 16 years in office. The committee has jurisdiction relating to the police department, the State’s Attorney, the sheriff’s office, the Circuit Court, county corrections and rehabilitation, the Criminal Justice Coordinating Commission, Fire/Rescue, emergency management, liquor control and consumer protection. Andrews will have responsibilities in his new position related to several of those areas.
Andrews is clearly anxious to get to work on his newest set of challenges—this time in the judicial branch of county government. “I am looking forward to it,” Andrews said. “I worked in the executive branch when I was with AmeriCorps (as managing director of Montgomery County’s AmeriCorps program, Community Assisting Police), then I worked in the legislative branch with the county council.”
Andrews’ roots in community outreach and education are deep. He has also worked for a non-profit public advocacy organization, as executive director of Common Cause of Maryland, from 1988 to 1994. He holds a Master’s degree in governmental administration from the University of Pennsylvania. He is 55.
“I am proud to join the State’s Attorney’s Office,” he said. “I have seen John McCarthy’s commitment to improving public safety through community outreach and the achievement of excellence and look forward to working with him to further this vital work.”