Montgomery County Council tables vote on community policing after contentious debate

The Montgomery County Council opted to delay its final vote on a community policing bill that requires the Maryland police department to train officers in cultural competency, include more detail in incidents where force is used and provide training in de-escalation tactics.

The decision came after council members Will Jawando and Evan Glass suggested “a pause” on the final vote.

Council members Tom Hucker and Hans Riemer supported the motion to table the vote.

Council member Nancy Navarro was absent, so the vote resulted in a 4-4 tie.

Jawando commented on the intention of the bill “to develop a public safety plan that prioritizes safety, that allows people to be respected on both sides.”

After additional discussion, council member Craig Rice, who sponsored the bill, then moved to table it. That resulted in an 8-0 vote, which allows Rice to bring the bill back for a vote.

Rice said his motion was tactical. He expects to bring the bill back for a vote as early as next week.

Before the vote, Rice, who is African American, told his colleagues that his comments would be personal.

He recalled how as a young man, he was stopped by police “for no reason,” and while recognizing things have changed, he said, “When a person says we don’t need a community policing bill, we just need to stamp down on the police, I say you’re completely wrong, and you just don’t get it.”

Community policing is about “turning the tide and making a difference so that we say police work with us and for us,” Rice said.

Rice criticized people he felt were working to drive a wedge between police and people of color.

Referring to police, Rice said, “We need them just as much as white people do! That’s the reality.”

Rice, who has a cousin who serves as a police officer in Prince George’s County, also thanked those in law enforcement who came to his aid over the years.

From the time he was held up as a student at Howard University, to the time he was in a car crash, “where I almost lost my life and they were the first ones to the scene,” he said.

He summed up his statement saying, “There is a way we can make this work for all of us.”

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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