In an online meeting Tuesday, Montgomery County, Maryland, elected leaders discussed the newly-released 2021 Reimagining Public Safety Task Force Recommendations Report.
The report offers 87 recommendations aimed at changing current policing practices, which can lead to racial injustices.
“Policing in (the) community has long been extremely problematic … I go back to a time when police were viewed more as an occupying army in many communities as they were guardians of the public safety,” said County Executive Marc Elrich, who called the report thoughtful and thorough.
Elrich also said that many people in the county have been harmed by the practices of its police department.
“We have long-standing practices in the police department that probably should have gotten people’s attention years ago. And they didn’t, they were just the normal way the policing was done, and I think all of us have suffered by just the normal acceptance of the way things have been done for a very, very long time,” said Elrich.
Among the task force recommendations are having more mental health professionals, social workers and community members trained in crisis intervention and fewer police officers responding to mental health crises.
Another recommendation tasked the state’s attorneys office to review the decriminalization of minor offenses with an eye toward the impact on minority communities.
The task force also called for the removal of police officers assigned to public schools, transferring the money that would be used to pay those officers to youth programs. The county hosted a public forum on that topic last week.
Another suggestion asked for data to be made available on arrests based on race in order to reduce racial disparities. And the report called for a change in law enforcement culture.
The recommendations also call for expanding automated traffic enforcement in order to reduce the number of police officers involved in traffic stops.
Council member Sidney Katz, chair of the Public Safety Committee, called for the entire community to weigh in on the recommendations.
“Whether you agree with every item that the committee is suggesting, whether you disagree with items that the committee is suggesting, we need to hear from everyone so we can get to the best place,” said Katz.