Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando, joined by Montgomery College President Dr. DeRionne Pollard, introduced the Community Informed Police Training Act to require police to work with local academic partners on recruitment and training.
The council bill would require a 30-hour training program, developed in collaboration with Montgomery College, about community services and social justice for all prospective Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) officer candidates. Performance in the course must be used to evaluate acceptance into the police academy, Jawando explained during a press conference Tuesday.
“One of the major challenges we have is that first step where we need to assess: are these guardians, are these folks who represent our community, understand[ing] it and should be protecting and serving?” he said.
During the program, candidates will learn about topics related to racial equity and social justice, the history of policing, communications skills and de-escalation. According to a council staff report, other topics include active listening, conflict resolution and civic engagement.
“These are critical components that, when you’re in 24 weeks in the police academy, which is what we do here in Montgomery County, you’re not allowed, you don’t have time, or necessarily the expertise to go into these topics,” Jawando said.
“For those of us at the college, we must be prepared to help educate and train the next generation of police officers,” outgoing-President Dr. Pollard said. “To help ensure that officers have the knowledge, the skills, the comfort level, the ability that they need to do the work that is necessary for our community.”
She said the goal of the joint effort is to develop deeper connections in race-equity perspectives, including unconscious bias and historical/structural aspects of race in the country.
“Locally, our hope is that efforts might mean truer commitments to and a more radical understanding of the notion of ‘garde bien’: to guard us all well,” Pollard said.
Jawando said although Montgomery County is unique in a lot of ways, it mirrors the country in regard to policing.
“But we are similar to the rest of the country in that our system of policing was derived from slave patrols in the south that has gone over time to turn into a system of mass incarceration that disproportionately interacts with our different communities.” He said discrimination in law enforcement has repercussions.
“This has real life consequences. It interferes with job prospects. It interferes with how you feel protected in your community,” Jawando said. “It also can lead to death. And yes, we’ve had cases here in Montgomery County where we’ve had unarmed Black men killed by police.”
On Monday, Jawando and County Council President Tom Hucker discussed additional new police legislation.
— Maryam Shahzad (@maryam_mcm) May 18, 2021