- Montgomery County police responded in force to Wednesday's hostage crisis at the Discovery building. (Photo: Jay Westcott)
The major response to the hostage situation at Discovery Communications on Wednesday included the Montgomery County Police Department, the FBI, the ATF, and U.S. Capitol Police, among other agencies.
Of course the first concern when responding to an emergency situation such as the dangerous one on Wednesday shouldn't be money, but given Montgomery County's tight fiscal situation, one wonders how the county will manage to pay for it.
Between the long hours worked by responding officers and the need to reassign others to cover regular duties, such operations can be pricey. In the 2011 fiscal year, Montgomery County police officers and firefighters already face furloughs — five days on average. And the Silver Spring police district currently has 19 unfilled policing positions. The county’s police department budget was cut by 6.5 percent this year [PDF].
At a press conference Thursday, county leaders praised the efforts of law enforcement officials for their timely and all-hands-on-deck response to what could have been a disastrous situation. But how much did the operation set the county back, and does the county have the money for it?
“We have no final numbers as of yet,” County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) said after Thursday’s press conference. “I’m sure there will be some costs, but this is what our people train for.”
Leggett went on to say that the county has to anticipate for these kinds of emergency situations and can tap into a reserve fund to pay for it.
The current budget [PDF] allocates $177.8 million for reserves, which accounts for 4 percent of the total operating budget.