Montgomery Co. task force releases changes for public safety focusing on racial injustices

Fewer police on streets and eliminating funding for officers in schools are among the key recommendations of a task force on public safety in Montgomery County, Maryland.

The Reimagining Public Safety Task Force says a change in law enforcement culture needs to happen soon.

“I think social justice has been a long time coming. And telling people that it could be a long time before we deal with this would just be kind of insult to injury,” County Executive Marc Elrich said.

A group of 45 volunteer community members started meeting in August. The group’s report was released on Thursday.

They focused on several different public safety areas including 911 and 311 call responses, the police department budget, police programming, and best practices for responding to crises in the county.

Elrich said some of the recommendations can be implemented now, including changes to police stops for minor offenses.

“We have to address this, and this has got to be a priority,” he said.

On the topic of eliminating funding for school resource officers, task force co-chair Marc Mauer said it’s a step that needs to happen for racial equality for local children and teens.

“Based on a variety of studies that show very little impact on public safety but frequently exacerbating the school-to-prison pipeline and the black and brown disparities that come within that,” Mauer said.

Some of the key recommendations from the task force include:

  • Shifting certain responsibilities from police to county agencies and community organizations
  • Inclusion in public safety measures across county police, staff and residents that reflects and understands the diverse makeup of the county including lessening police presence on streets
  • Implement and/or expand alternative responses to crime
  • Collect and analyze data to address both racial and social disparities

Elrich will discuss the report with the community in a virtual meeting at 6 p.m. on Feb. 9 on Zoom.

The public can watch the roundtable meeting and submit questions during the event by registering on the county website.

“Sometimes institutions need to change. It’s not always easy but it’s often necessary,” Elrich said.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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