Montgomery Co. residents weigh in on police reform bill

Since the death of George Floyd, Montgomery County, Maryland, has begun considering ways to implement new procedures within the police department.

Tuesday night, community members weighed in on a bill that has received support from the council.

The Police Regulations Use of Force bill would require the police chief to write a new policy focused on use of force with certain requirements.

Officers wouldn’t be allowed to hit suspects who are already restrained and they’d also be required to step in if they witness another officer using force. It would also limit the use of deadly force and neck restraints unless there’s an “imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury.”

Carline Ponder spoke on behalf of the ACLU’s Montgomery County chapter and asked that the bill ban all chokeholds, no-knock warrants and shooting at moving vehicles unless there is a danger.

“We need an immediate vision and an immediate harm reduction in addition to a path to true public safety,” Ponder said.

Ron Landsman, a community member at Tuesday night’s meeting, supported the bill but said it doesn’t do enough to limit conflicts from happening in the first place.

“I think you have to look at the problem more broadly and more comprehensively,” he said.

Concerns were also expressed when looking at policing in low income minority communities and the need for mental health services instead of law enforcement.

Zelda Wafer Alonge, with the Community Action Agency, asked for additional resources and training to combat her organization’s concerns, like anti-racism, de-escalation and implicit bias training.

“A police force that has a better understanding of systemic racism and how it impacts our daily lives will be in a much better position to interact with our community members,” she said.

The bill will go to the public safety community for consideration Thursday.

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Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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