Councilmembers Hans Riemer and Will Jawando (both D-At Large) announced plans to introduce a bill today to remove school resource officers from county schools and redirect the funding to mental health services and restorative justice training.
Bill 46-20, Police – School Resource Officers – Prohibited would prohibit the deployment of SROs, who are sworn uniformed law enforcement officers “trained in emergency preparedness, crisis management, community policing concepts, and problem solving,” according to the staff report. Currently, there are 23 assigned to work as liaisons to Montgomery County Public Schools.
In a memo to colleagues included in the staff report, the councilmembers wrote, “our counselor-to-student ratios lag far behind other school systems both in the region and nationally. Over time, our county government has chosen to prioritize funding of police in schools who can quickly make arrests, instead of professionals and services that can assist our students with non-law enforcement-based interventions and mental health or wellbeing.”
The bill also cites statistics pointing out the disparities between arrest, detention and incarceration rates of Black students compared to white students, including “Black students are 275% more likely to be arrested in school than their white peers [and] Black students are 320% more likely to be incarcerated at the conclusion of their trial than white students.”
The councilmembers suggest moving the SROs into other positions within the police department, which they estimate would save MCPS about $3 million.
They propose to use those savings for after-school student services to rescue risk factors, providing recreational therapeutic group activities for students, and funding for restorative justice training for MCPS teachers and staff.
A public hearing on Bill 46-20 is tentatively scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 12.
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