Archive for the ‘Public Safety and Crime’ category

Good News on the Law Enforcement Front

31 October 2012

The commander of the Drug Enforcement Section of the Montgomery County Police was quoted as saying that they are going to step down enforcement of marijuana laws on low-level users.

Better that they should cut out enforcement altogether, against buyers and sellers, but this at least represents a better value for the county’s taxpayers.

How The County Made Fire And Rescue Services More Expensive And Less Responsive

10 August 2011

There has been increasing tension between volunteer and professional firefighters in the county.  Meanwhile, due to a political spat, County Executive Leggett has been trying to use the budget to wipe out the little administrative support that the county provides for the volunteer services.

Fire and rescue services in Montgomery, until about 20 years ago, were largely run by local volunteer fire departments.  (MoCo has 19 volunteer fire and rescue departments around the county, administered and staffed as neighborhood organizations).   Some professionals were hired by the county to supplement the staffing.  In the late 1980s, the county began maneuvering to take the departments out of the hands of the volunteers, and place them in the hands of county government.  County employees are easier for the government to control.   Now, the situation has been reversed, and fire departments are staffed largely with county employees, with volunteers filling in remaining spots.   I haven’t seen any suggestions that the services provided by the volunteers are any different than those provided by the unionized firefighters.  It’s simply the standard Montgomery County assumption that things are better left for the government to do.

This transformation has a large fiscal impact, to be sure.  Salaries make up a large portion of fire and rescue expenditures.  But it also has an effect on the connection between the firefighters and the population, and the sense of local community that existed when departments were local volunteer associations.  In MoCo, though, voluntarism and community often take a back seat to the desirability of government control.  It’s a classic example of the subtitle motto of this blog:  government opposes and crowds out civil society.