Montgomery County could require community policing education for officers

Montgomery County, Maryland, council member At-Large Will Jawando introduced new legislation that would increase education and training requirements for police officers in the county.

The Community Informed Police Training Act, if passed, would require new police officer applicants to complete a 30-hour program that would focus on community services and social justice.

The program, which has been developed in partnership with Montgomery College, would cover topics of racial equity, community policing and the history of police. The program would also put an emphasis on active listening, de-escalation and conflict resolution.

The 30 hours would be split among five weeks, with students attending class either once or twice a week, depending on their schedules.

According to information from Montgomery College, the course would use project-based learning with guest speakers, including current and retired police officers, residents who had interactions with police, and experts in race equity and historical perspectives.

After completion of the course, candidates would be evaluated on their work before entrance into the 24-week police academy training that is required by Montgomery County.

Jawando announced the legislation at a news conference Tuesday.

“We need more training. Is training a panacea, absolutely not. But are there things that you can’t do in 24 weeks that you can do in these five? … absolutely,” Jawando said.

Jawando hopes that this will solve what he says are problems in the county’s criminal justice system.

“In 2018 Black folks made up 18% of the county’s population. They were over half of the arrests and over 55% who had force used against them in interactions with police,” Jawando said.

Jawando also mentioned several instances of police brutality, including an incident where a Montgomery County police officer was convicted of assault after he used his knee to drive a handcuffed man’s face into the sidewalk during an arrest.  

If the legislation is passed, current police officers would also need to complete similar training through their continuing education requirements, and senior leadership in the department would receive additional training as well.

It is unclear when the legislation will be put to a vote or when the requirement for applicants would begin.

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