Montgomery County discusses re-imagining public safety during town hall

About 18% of the population in Montgomery County, Maryland, is Black, but according to a report this summer from the Office of Legislative Oversight, they were subject to 32% of all traffic stops and 55% of use-of-force cases in 2018.

Montgomery County Councilman Will Jawando held a town hall Thursday with several local experts on police reform and what that may look like in the region, with a focus on the racial disparities found in the report.

“We’re a great place, but we’re also not immune to the sickness and the disparities that we’ve seen nationwide,” Jawando said.

Danielle Blocker, president of Young People for Progress, said during the meeting that data collection is helpful, but change needs to happen beyond the numbers.

“We have to have action that is action other than more data collection or another task force or commission, to make sure that these problems are actually being fixed,” Blocker said. “What we really need is leaders to really have the will and courage to make sure that happens.”

And, Jawando said even though it has the data, the community needs to understand that it doesn’t paint the whole picture.

“There are whole things, categories of things, interactions that aren’t being tracked that have a corrosive effect on how certain communities, particularly Black communities, Latino communities experience policing,” Jawando said.

Councilmember Sidney Katz spoke at the beginning of the town hall, saying that leaders in the community need to pay attention.
“The most important part of our job is listening. And that’s what tonight is all about,” Katz said.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters and republished with permission. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up