New public safety committee elects leaders, aims to tackle key issues
BY LINDSAY MYERS — Wednesday, April 20 was the second meeting of the new Police and Public Safety Citizens’ Advisory Committee. The committee met at the First United Methodist Church on Belcrest Rd. to elect its leadership and discuss upcoming agenda items.
Hyattsville Police Chief Doug Holland ran the meeting until the committee elected Thomas Tucker as chairman. Tucker is a retired army colonel and has lived in Hyattsville for four years. He said that he “never intended to move here,” but when his daughter moved to the area, he and his wife followed. Tucker first became involved in the community when he marched into the police station and told Chief Holland that he was concerned about his daughter’s safety. “I really offended him, “ Tucker said. “He gave me a pretty good lecture on what a competent group this is and I found it to be true.”
Tucker said he wants to give back to the city and to the chief who has done so much for him, including serving on the Law Enforcement Advisory Council Tucker formed as director of the National Center for Biomedical Research and Training. “Chief has served on my council and I’d like to serve on his,” said Tucker.
Newly elected Vice Chairman Emily Strab has lived in Hyattsville for 10 years and currently runs the Ward 2 Neighborhood Watch program. Strab hopes that she can use her experience to help expand the program throughout the city. She also hopes to strengthen the rapport between the police department and the citizenry. Greater mutual respect between the two groups, Strab suggested, would “create a community” where “a lot of other issues take care of themselves.”
The committee briefly debated whether they should formally recommend that the police department hire an official police captain, but Councilmember Joseph Solomon (Ward 5) advised that it was not “in the best interest of the committee to take this on as its first issue when there are so many others we aren’t touching as a city.” Committee members Strab and Pat Yinkey seconded Councilmember Solomon’s concern, agreeing that the recommendation would seem too political as a first act of business.
The committee identified several other issues, including gang violence and bicyclist safety, as topics to tackle over the next year. Councilmember Solomon, who first filed the motion to form the committee, said he envisions the group will “propose and create solutions to these issues” by brainstorming and consulting with other cities. Chief Holland said that as the police department liaison, he would “bring in officers who are working on those particular items to say, ‘okay, here’s the extent of the problem, here’s what we’re doing, here’s what we don’t have the capacity to do.’” Better informed, the committee would then work to find a solution to the problem and make a formal recommendation to the city, he said.
At its May 4 meeting, Vice Chairwoman Emily Strab will present on the Ward 2 Neighborhood Watch program. The committee will use her observations to help implement future Neighborhood Watch programs throughout the city.
The committee will meet every first Wednesday of the month at 7:30pm. Locations to be announced.