HPD nearing agreement with Treasury Department
BY HEATHER WRIGHT
While trying to ensure national financial security, U.S. Department of the Treasury officials reportedly have concerns about the physical security of their offices in Hyattsville.
The City of Hyattsville is working towards an agreement with the Department of the Treasury to increase the police presence at their office building, across from the Mall at Prince George’s in University Town Center, because of these concerns. During an interview with the Hyattsville LIfe & Times, Hyattsville Police Chief Jarod J. Towers said the Treasury Department requested more police protection after the August homicide at the mall, which was the second fatal shooting to take place there this year.
The Department of the Treasury is the executive agency responsible for promoting economic prosperity and ensuring the financial security of the nation. According to a draft of the agreement, the agency has offices at 6505 Belfast Drive, housing more than 200 of its employees.
Although the Hyattsville Police Department (HPD) continues to have a staffing shortage (40 out of 50 sworn officers positions were filled, as of Nov. 7, according to a freedom of information act request), Towers explained that the Treasury Department’s request has generated a secondary, or extra duty, opportunity that is considered voluntary for officers. He said it would not burden the department and can help with officer retention.
“One of the things I’ve learned, through surveys and through conversations with other officers,” said Towers, “is that a lot of them care a lot about secondary employment opportunities and being able to make extra money.” (The Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 guarantees police officers a right to participate in secondary employment.)
The current draft of the agreement calls for an officer to provide additional security to the area every weekday for two 3-hour shifts, coinciding with morning and evening rush hours.
According to Towers, providing more protection to the Treasury Department, and similar secondary employment opportunities, can also provide more security throughout the city. He explained that if a critical incident, like a shooting, occurs while HPD officers are at the Treasury Department (or on any other secondary employment assignment), they are obligated to leave the assignment and respond to the incident. “It provides the city with an opportunity for additional resources beyond what we’re allocated on any given day,” he said.
Towers noted that the city has entered into secondary employment agreements with The Home Depot, Northwestern High School, and local liquor and grocery stores.
Towers said it was unclear why the Department of the Treasury contacted the HPD, rather than a federal law enforcement agency, like the Federal Protective Service, or a private security contractor. He noted, however, that there is a current concern about the training level and standards of private security firms. “We are fortunate to have a very good relationship with our community, and we’re trusted, and I think that played a role,” said Towers. As of press time, the Department of the Treasury had not responded to several requests for comment.