A bill to formalize community policing guidelines for the county’s police department was introduced this week by Council President Nancy Navarro (D-District 4) and Councilmember Craig Rice (D-District 2).
Bill 33-19, Police – Community Policing would address “core community policing values,” diversity on the force, engagements with the community, complaints against county officers and other issues.
Community policing, also known as community-oriented policing, is defined by the U.S. Department of Justice as “a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies, which support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques, to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime.”
The practice, according to DOJ, should include collaborative partnerships between the law enforcement agency and other government agencies, community members and/or groups, nonprofits and other service providers, private businesses and the media.
“While our county police department does a great job each and every day protecting our community, we want to continue to improve the relationship between our police officers and our residents,” said Navarro in a press release. “We often don’t realize that most of the officers serving our community are also our neighbors and we need to build on that relationship. This bill is designed to bridge that gap and to strengthen community-oriented policing strategies in our community.”
The bill would establish guidelines including, according to the release:
- To regularly initiate and engage in positive reinforcement activities with communities
- To ensure cultural competency throughout the department
- To emphasize the recruitment of candidates with ties to the county
- To provide adequate training in de-escalation tactics, and
- To maintain and improve the School Resource Officer Program.
The bill would also require the department to file an annual report “on workforce diversity, community engagement activities, the number of complaints filed against officers, officer suspensions and other data.”
The council has scheduled a public hearing on the bill for Jan. 21, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. Residents can sign up for public hearings here.
All other councilmembers are cosponsors of this bill, which means it would be expected to pass easily.
Earlier this year, Councilmember Hans Riemer (D-At Large) introduced a bill to establish a Police Advisory Commission to improve the council’s oversight of the department.
Screenshot from Montgomery County Police Department web page.