The Montgomery County Council Public Safety Committee voted 2-0 to approve an amendment to the Community Policing Act proposed by Council Member Nancy Navarro. The amendment, which was written in response to the public outcry from organizations such as the NAACP and the ACLU, removed some of the more controversial language in the original bill.
The original draft of the Community Policing Act stated “the Department must maintain and expand the School Resource Officer Program, in recognition of its value to the community.” This did not sit well with many civil rights organizations, who were vocal about their displeasure.
The Montgomery branch of the NAACP released this statement in response to the bill. “For some parents, the presence of SROs in schools alleviates their concerns about school safety. Those parents will point to the brave actions of an SRO to stop a school shooter in Great Mills, Md. However, for many other parents, the presence of an SRO undermines the academic environment and permits the escalation of routine administrative discipline.”
On top of removing the expansion of the School Resource Officer Program, the Navarro Amendment also tried to address other issues brought up with the initial bill.
The LGBTQ Democrats of Montgomery County pushed for several changes to the bill. These include the creation of a liaison officer program to help improve the relationship between law enforcement and the LGBTQ community, making sure the Department “ensures cultural competency throughout the Department and increase officer knowledge of the County’s diverse population”, and creating the Crisis Assitance Helping Out on the Streets (CAHOOTS) to make mental health professionals who are trained in de-escalation more readily available to deal with any potential mental health crisis. Navarro’s amendment addressed all of these issues.
The Community Policing Act will be put to a full council vote later this March.