Montgomery County police reform task force releases early survey results

When an independent group looking to reform policing in Montgomery County, Maryland, asked residents to fill out an online survey last month, more than 6,500 responded.

The survey closed Nov. 14, and early results have been published.

The survey asked how much of a role Montgomery County police should have in responding to various situations — a lead role, a partnership with other groups, a backup role or no involvement at all.

The situations ranged from homicide and weapons violations to addiction or a mental health crisis.

“Looking at domestic violence, 48% said MCPD should have a lead role, and 40% felt the MCPD should partner with other service providers,” said Caroline Sturgis, assistant chief administrative officer for the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force. She spoke during a virtual meeting Thursday night.

When a response is needed to issues related to homelessness, 31% of those surveyed said the police should not be involved at all.

When asked about possibly reallocating money away from the police department, the response that got the most support was: “Do not take funding away from the police department.”

The task force, which started its work over the summer, is scheduled to release its recommendations by Jan. 18, 2021.

“I hope that we get recommendations here that let us steer policing in a more humane direction, in a more appropriate direction,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, who created the task force.

Asked at the meeting if the task force could be given more time to deliver its final report, Elrich said, “I’m not averse to extending in order to get a better product. We’re trying to get some stuff done so it can be built into the budget.”

He suggested that the task force could release interim recommendations next month and release final ones at a later date.

The task force’s next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 15.

You can watch Thursday’s meeting below.

More Montgomery County news

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Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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