Reimagining Public Safety Task Force submits report, future of school resource officers hotly debated

Maryland

ROCKVILLE, Md. (WDVM) — Montgomery County’s Reimagining Public Safety Task Force submitted an 84-page report Thursday, outlining 87 recommendations for police within the county.

The recommendations include changes to police training, shifting some police responsibilities to other county agencies, and defunding the roughly $3 million School Resource Officer program.

County Executive Marc Elrich says the recommendations give a framework for solutions the county can pursue sooner rather than later.

“I think social justice has been a long time coming and telling people it could be a long time before we deal with this would just be kind of insult to injury,” he said. “So we will deal with these as expeditiously as we can.”

The Montgomery County Council held a public hearing later in the evening to discuss bill 46-20, which would prohibit police officers from being stationed within public schools.

The Public Safety Task Force says they support bill 46-20 and recommend the funds used for SRO’s be reallocated towards youth counseling and development programs.

Dozens of people spoke at the hearing, many of them students, all making their feelings known about the program.

“End this program,” former Board of Education Student Member Nate Tinbite said. “Use the money to invest in real social workers. Make our schools truly safe and prove that black lives matter in Montgomery County.”

Former County Councilmember Phil Andrews also gave testimony, citing support for SRO’s from Montgomery County’s principals.

“Every high school principal has gone on record supporting SRO’s,” he said. “Who knows better the needs of the schools for safety than high school principals?”

Jason Wu, a student member of the Maryland State Department of Education, cited MCPS student arrest records, saying SRO’s disproportionately target minority students.

“83% of all SRO arrests were of black and brown students,” Wu said. “What we’re seeing with the presence of SRO’s is the criminalization of students and a failure to provide support for the students that need it the most.”

Executive Elrich plans to discuss the task force recommendations with the community on Feb. 9 and another public hearing on the SRO bill will be scheduled in the future.

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