Acting Montgomery Co. police Chief Marcus Jones is now the permanent head of the department after the county council’s unanimous vote Tuesday.
Montgomery County Council member Andrew Friedson called it a “challenging process,” but said, “I am reminded, based on recent events, that bumpy roads lead to beautiful places, so hopefully that’s where we end up here as well.”
“And since we have had our share of conversation, I think we can just go ahead and move forward with a vote,” Council President Nancy Navarro said before the unanimous vote passed.
The room erupted into applause after the vote, which came after the council interviewed Jones, a police force veteran twice passed over by County Executive Marc Elrich, who settled on Jones after two candidates dropped out.
Jones fielded a series of questions from council members during the Tuesday hearing, including questions over pedestrian safety, mental health services for officers, as well as about a court decision on “probable cause” in cases of odor of marijuana in traffic stops. Jones explained training bulletins are issued when changes in law occur so officers follow existing law.
Council member Gabe Albornoz said earlier that Jones’ record is well-known to the council.
“All of us are quite familiar with his work and his connections to the community,” Albornoz said. “I fully expect that he will receive our support.”
That is despite the recent controversy when Jones supported Elrich in declining an American flag with the “Thin Blue Line” symbol as a gift. The flag was a gift from a county resident to officers at the 5th District police station in Germantown, Maryland.
The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #35 in Montgomery County criticized Elrich and Jones in a statement on the organization’s website. The statement read, in part, “We condemn this arbitrary, political action and are especially disappointed that Marcus Jones does not demonstrate appreciation and understanding of the concerns of working police officers.”
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan also commented on the move, blasting Elrich for his decision.
The position of police chief became vacant when former Chief Tom Manger retired in April.
Albornoz said Manger left a legacy of good policing. “He did, in my opinion, an outstanding job,” Albornoz said.
Jones, who is African American, has been on the force for more than 30 years.
“I think it’s always a good policy to have leadership reflect the diversity of the communities you’re trying to serve,” Albornoz said. He added that Jones’ experience in Montgomery County makes him a great choice.
“I believe he will hit the ground running and I look forward to his leadership,” he said.