Council Passes Bill to Require Police Adopt Use of Force Policy

The County Council yesterday unanimously approved a bill that would require the Montgomery County police chief to adopt a use of force policy.

Expedited Bill 27-20, Police-Regulations-Use of Force Policy would, according to a press release:

  • At a minimum, prohibit a police officer from using deadly force except when absolutely necessary, as a last resort, when no other alternatives are available
  • Require police officers to stop, or attempt to stop, the use of excessive force or the commission of a crime by another officer, without facing retaliation or discipline for intervening
  • Prohibit neck or carotid restraint and striking a restrained individual
  • Limit the police from using deadly force against a fleeing person
  • Limit no-knock warrants, and
  • Prohibit shooting at moving vehicles, unless the vehicle is being used as a weapon and the circumstances would authorize the use of deadly force.

“We are called as a nation to end the dangerous and deadly use of excessive force by police officers. Here in Montgomery County, as we reimagine public safety in our community, we must change police policy in order to protect our residents—particularly residents of color who suffer from excessive police force at a horrifically disproportionate rate,” said Councilmember Will Jawando (D-At Large), who initiated the bill. “Our bill creates a clear and logical baseline for what is an appropriate use of force by any Montgomery County police officer, and identifies what is not.”

Many of the provisions in the legislation are similar those in a new policy announced in June by County Executive Marc Elrich, Police Chief Marcus Jones and the Fraternal Order of Police.

With the passage of Bill 27-20, the new policies are not subject to collective bargaining.

The bill also requires the police chief to, among other things:

  • Develop guidelines and clear directives on protecting all individuals without regard to race, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation
  • Include information on protecting community members with behavioral, mental or physical disabilities, children, elderly persons, pregnant individuals, persons with limited English proficiency and populations that are disproportionately impacted by inequities, and
  • Develop the guidelines in conjunction with the members of the newly appointed Policing Advisory Commission.

Officers who violate the new policies would be subject to discipline under the State Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights.

Screenshot from the Montgomery County Police website. Photo from MCP.

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