Thursday, June 16, 2005

County thinks school system isn't serious about gangs

Montgomery County Council members questioned "how seriously Montgomery County Public Schools perceived the threat gangs presented to the county's young people," the Business Gazette reports.

"Whether we want to believe it or not, we have gangs in Montgomery County," Police Chief J. Thomas Manger told the County Council.

"In a memo describing its own anti-gang activities, the school system provided a lengthy list of programs designed to aid virtually all students, not just those at risk of joining gangs, including class size reduction and a high school wellness center," according to the Gazette.

The worst gang activity comes from the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), centered around illegal immigrants from El Salvador. The school system said not a word about the need to enforce immigration laws. (Neither did the County Council, which has a policy of protecting illegal immigrants from those who would enforce the law.)

"What is going to be Montgomery County Public Schools' role? At the moment, it's less than clear," said Council President Thomas E. Perez (D-Dist. 5) of Takoma Park.

The County is funding a number of social programs, but is failing to support the local police. According to the Gazette, "The police department sought $597,900 for gang task force unit officers and received only $133,230."