GAITHERSBURG, Md. (WDVM) — Debate continues in Montgomery County where lawmakers are split when it comes to policing and public safety. Two rival bills are going head to head, both with big implications for police in Montgomery County Public Schools.
“We will have two options: to eliminate the program altogether or to change the program in a way that gives students the opportunity to feel protected. That’s not a bad thing, either way,” said councilmember Craig Rice, who introduced Bill 7-21 on Tuesday.
His bill would re-affirm the role of school resource officers in MCPS while also requiring additional training and mentorship for SROs.
“This bill really incorporates a lot of what we’ve heard from our community, what they would like to see changed, the concerns they have put forth,” said Rice.
The new bill counters Bill 46-20, introduced late last year by councilmember Will Jawando, which would prohibit school resource officers entirely, either eliminating those positions in the department or reassigning those officers.
“When you removed SROs, you remove disproportionality, and where [officers are removed] we’ve seen [disproportionality removed],” said Jawando during Bill 7-21’s introduction on Tuesday.
Sidney Katz is a co-sponsor of Bill 7-21, in favor of keeping SROs in schools. He says the sponsors are open to amending and changing the legislation to come up with a solution.
“Montgomery County can and should be the prototype for how this issue is resolved,” Katz said.