ROCKVILLE, Md. – Rockville leaders asked for questions and they asked for concerns and in turn were willing to share with citizens how the city has tried to be a welcoming place for immigrants for the last 15 years or more.
On Thursday, the city hosted a town hall meeting focused on diversity.
“We wanted to make this a very casual way to get as many questions and concerns going as possible,” said Terry Treschuk, a former Rockville Police Chief and one of the event organizers.
The crowd of around 200 people were broken into groups of seven for the first hour of the town hall then the groups came together to share their conversations with the big group.
“All the information that will be put together to put it back out to the community,” said Treschuk. “Maybe it will prompt a few more town hall meetings.”
Rockville City Police officers were at the town hall but did not participate in the small group conversations.
According to Treschuk, they were on hand to answer specific questions about hate crime investigations how the city handles immigration issues.
“Officers are very good at making people feel welcome-- safe and secure,” said Treshuk. “Talking with police that’s part of building this confidence and trust and part of that is showing you can be trusted.”
The city and surrounding areas of Montgomery county are dealing with an uptick in hate-based vandalism in schools and bias-related crimes over the last several months.
Crime statistics were not discussed in the first half of the town hall meeting but city leaders like Virginia Onley say the issue is a concern in a city that’s become a friendly place for new Americans and visitors to the United States.
The city of Rockville said out of population of around 67,000 residents close to 50 percent are of multicultural backgrounds and 34 percent of residents are foreign-born.