Montgomery County residents weigh in on priorities for next police chief

A file photo of a Montgomery County police car. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

Out of all the qualities Montgomery County, Maryland, residents want their next police chief to have, integrity has the highest demand.

Twenty-six percent of 1,123 surveyed said that integrity was the most important quality for an incoming head of the county’s police department.

An appreciation for diversity was rated most important for 17% of respondents. Honesty was rated as most critical by 15%, and being described as “apolitical” was most important to 14% of survey respondents.

The results of what the next chief’s focus should be were divided along racial lines.

White survey respondents listed crime and safety as their first focus.

African-American and Latino respondents said outreach and engagement should be priorities.

The rest, which included Asians and Pacific Islanders, said crime and safety should be the next chief’s focus.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich is in the process of considering candidates to fill the job of police chief, which was left vacant when former Chief Tom Manger stepped down in April. The county launched a national search, while holding forums on community concerns regarding police leadership.

Marcus Jones is filling the role of acting police chief. He most recently held the title of assistant chief and had been endorsed by Manger as a “phenomenal” candidate to fill the top job.

Manger also singled out then-Assistant Chief Laura Lanham, who has since left the department to take a job in the Rockville City Police Department.

According to the county’s survey, most respondents said the biggest challenge facing the next police chief is gaining the trust of the public and dealing with the public’s perception of police.

Read the survey results at Montgomery County’s website.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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