County Executive Marc Elrich talks about the new proposed legislation. Police Chief Marcus Jones and Earl Stoddard, Montgomery County Assistant Chief Administrative Officer also addressed the press conference. Credit: Apps Bichu

A new legislation aims to improve safety for nighttime businesses across Montgomery County, officials say. 

At a Monday afternoon press conference, County Executive Marc Elrich, County Council Member Kate Stewart (D-District 4), Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones and other officials announced the Late Night Business Safety Plan, which aims to establish new rules for nighttime businesses in the area. 

The legislation, which will be introduced to the council on Tuesday, will focus on businesses in areas that receive higher calls for services during late night hours so that they can develop Safety Plans in accordance with guidelines set by Montgomery County Police. 

“So, the way we’ve outlined it is if you have a liquor license, a restaurant license offering on-site consumption, or other tobacco products license where you have on-site consumption, and you operate between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m., you may be subject to this regulation,” said Earl Stoddard, assistant chief administrative officer at Montgomery County. 

The legislation comes amid growing public concern over safety in Silver Spring, following the fatal shooting of a man at a Silver Spring parking garage on Dec.21 and the fatal shooting of a gas station attendant in White Oak, where a search of the suspect Torrey Moore’s apartment led to police discovering the decomposed remains of a pregnant woman. At a community listening session at White Oak last month, many residents in the area called for increased policing and safety measures in response to the incidents.

Stoddard said police officers will look at police response areas across the county and based on the volume of calls for service between midnight and 6 a.m., identify the areas, and if businesses in those areas have one of the above-mentioned licenses and operate between 12-6 a.m., they will be required to have a safety plan.  

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According to officials, the legislation would help promote safety in the county and help maintain a balance between a thriving nightlife and a secure environment for residents. 

Jason Miskiri, owner of The Society Restaurant & Lounge; The Angry Jerk, a Carribean eatery, and the newly opened The Breakfast Club, also spoke of his support for the bill and said he himself invested money to help increase safety in the Silver Spring area and near his own restaurants.

“I applaud the leaders for this legislation. I think it’s great. We need to put it in place,” Miskiri said. 

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Elrich also spoke of safety measures that were instituted in Silver Spring after growing public concern over safety.

“We are making the community safer. We’re using enhanced technology. You see cameras in Silver Spring that you never saw before. We’re making improvements to the public realm. There’s enhanced lighting, graffiti removal, and maintenance of sidewalks and roadways”, Elrich said. “You’re going to see more use of technologies, license plate readers, stationery and vehicles and we’ve got money in the proposed budget to go further with license plate readers and cameras.”  

Elrich said the new proposed legislation is the next step in helping make businesses in the area safer. 

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Stewart also said she would be advocating for a grant program to help businesses fund these Safety Plans. 

“I’m going to be putting forward a grant program for small businesses so that they can create the safety plans, live up to them and also work with small businesses that are impacted by crime in our communities, because we know this is something that we have to do to support our small businesses to make sure they stay vibrant and [stay a] part of our community,” Stewart said. 

Stoddard said the legislation will be introduced in the County Council, where council members can put forth their amendments and hopefully pass the legislation. 

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“Then….there’ll be a six-month period when the police department will develop a set of regulations. Those regulations will be approved by the County Council. Once they’ve been approved, they’ll go out and notify the businesses that ‘hey, you fall into one of the areas as defined by this regulation’ and then they’ll have a period of compliance where they have to come into compliance with the law,” Stoddard said.