Police union, NAACP support Montgomery County police reform bill

A Montgomery County, Maryland, police reform bill set to increase random reviews of body-worn-camera footage garnered support from both a police union and the NAACP Tuesday.

If passed, Bill 18-21 would require uniformed officers to wear body cameras, increase the number of randomized reviews and speed up the review process itself.

Lee Holland, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35, said the group backs the bill.

“To strengthen our program and to make sure all random checks are done without bias is imperative for the county upgrades to Axon performance software to allow for computer generated audits and searches,” Holland said.

Axon is the company that produces the cameras worn by officers. Holland also said that speeding up the review process is a plus.

“Although we would like to see an investigation take 90 days or less, the requirements written in this bill are a big step forward from our current 240 plus days to complete an investigation,” he said.

And Faith Blackburne, with the Montgomery County chapter of the NAACP, said her chapter also supports the legislation.

“[The bill] is an important step toward more accountable and transparent police policy,” Blackburne said.

But she added council members need to make sure these reviews are truly random in order to keep police accountable.

The bill was drafted after Montgomery County officials learned about an incident in which police camera footage showed two officers handcuffing and berating a 5-year-old boy. The video came to light more than a year after the incident, when the boy’s mother filed a lawsuit.

Montgomery County Council President Tom Hucker is the lead sponsor of the bill.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report.

Luke Garrett

Luke Garrett is a D.C. native dedicated to journalism. He is a reporter and the creator, host and producer of the original WTOP podcast, “DMV Download.” The podcast debuted in 2022. On the show, Garrett takes a weekly look at the biggest stories and ideas in the D.C. region.

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