Elrich Addresses Concerns Over Downtown Silver Spring Crime, Safety

County Executive Marc Elrich addressed concerns surrounding crime in downtown Silver Spring during his weekly media briefing on Thursday.

Elrich emphasized that while the perception of crime in the area persists, the reality does not align with the belief that downtown Silver Spring is out of control.

“The perception of crime in Silver Spring is still there. It’s still real,” Elrich said during his weekly news briefing Thursday. “There’s still more crime than anyone of us would like,” but it is not as intense as some believe, according to MCM.

County Chief Administrative Officer Rich Madaleno contested local news reports suggesting that crime was the primary driver behind businesses closing and moving within downtown Silver Spring. Starbucks, for instance, will close its Ellsworth Drive location on March 30 but opened a larger store in the nearby Blairs Shops last summer, replacing Peet’s Coffee and a Starbucks location next to the Silver Spring Metro station that closed in 2020.

Both Starbucks and Fairfax, Va.-based Peterson Companies, which leases and manages the Downtown Silver Spring development, have issued statements indicating that the Starbucks closure is due to the expiration of the Seattle-based coffee chain’s lease.

Similarly, Loyalty Bookstores moved to Bump ‘N Grind Coffee’s Analog Market from Ellsworth Drive last month without explicitly attributing the move to crime-related concerns, Madaleno said.

Loyalty owner Hannah Oliver Depp announced the move via email in January, citing changes in the bookselling world over the past few years. “As you may know, the bookselling world has changed a lot over the last few years, offering both new joys and new challenges,” Oliver Depp said. “A huge part of our mission at Loyalty Bookstores is to embrace the challenges—like shrinking profit margins, safety concerns, and the ongoing fight for underrepresented books—fueled by the joy we get from being a part of this thriving community of book lovers.”

In response to the community’s worries about crime in Silver Spring, Montgomery County Police 3rd District Commander David McBain reported an increase in service calls, particularly in downtown Silver Spring. While aggravated assaults have been rising, there has been a decrease in burglaries, both commercial and residential. McBain also noted a concerning uptick in theft from autos, according to MCM.

Despite the challenges, law enforcement efforts have intensified in the area, with enhanced patrols and strategic initiatives aimed at curbing criminal activities. The police department’s proactive measures have led to the confiscation of several illicit firearms, including ghost guns, McBain said.

Local legislative discussions are underway to address community safety concerns, such as proposals to regulate late-night operations of certain establishments like hookah lounges, aiming to mitigate the surge in service calls during early morning hours and enhance public safety measures in the area. Additionally, the county’s Private Security Camera Incentive Program was recently expanded to include more geographic areas.

Meanwhile, several new establishments have opened recently or are set to open this year, including Java Nation, Chido’s Tex-Mex Grill, Roaming Rooster, Outback Steakhouse, Taco Bell Cantina, Prime Coffee & Bakery, and Gold’s Gym, as well as the Solaire Social and Commas food halls and the Silver Spring Recreation and Aquatic Center. Additionally, Atwell on Spring, which will add 375 apartments and will have Montgomery County’s third MOM’s Organic Market location, is set to open later this year.

Photo: “16.WalkToParade.SSMD.20November2021” by Elvert Barnes is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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