New bill would require Montgomery County police hopefuls to take class on equity, justice, disparities

Maryland

ROCKVILLE, Md. (WDVM) — Prospective police cadets in Montgomery County could soon be required to take an additional course through Montgomery College before they apply to the police academy.

Under Bill 17-21, which was introduced to the county council Tuesday, police academy hopefuls would be required by law to take a 30-hour course that covers racial equity and social justice, de-escalation techniques, mediation and other topics, in addition to the 60 college credit hours required by the Montgomery County Police Department for prospective hires.

“This is going to be a model for the nation,” said Councilmember Will Jawando, the lead sponsor on the bill and an outspoken advocate for police reform.

He announced the bill alongside Montgomery College officials at a press conference on MC’s Rockville campus Tuesday.

Jawando says local and national disparities in policing are part of what’s driving this push for additional training, on top of the 24- week police academy and undergraduate college credits.

“You’re three times more likely to be pulled over in this county as a Black resident. Seven times more likely if you’re live in Bethesda,” Jawando said, citing a report from the county’s Office of Legislative Oversight. “We’re not immune to these issues.”

“We can’t leave the task to guard well solely to the brave men and women of the police department,” said Montgomery College President Dr. Derionne Pollard

She says the college can play a role in equipping prospective police officers with an understanding of experiences different than their own and concepts that contribute to disparities in policing.

“[The course will touch on] unconscious bias, and the historical and structural aspects of race in this country, as well as a comprehension of the various cultural dynamics of the communities here in our county,” said Dr. Pollard.

Leaders on the project say if the course is administered to prospective police cadets in the future, it is likely to be taught by a combination of both educators and police officers.

Montgomery County Police did not respond to WDVM’s request for comment on the legislation.

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