The Montgomery County Council introduced Bill 46-20, which would prohibit the Montgomery County Police Department from deploying School Resource Officers (SROs) to Montgomery County Public Schools.
Montgomery County Councilmembers Will Jawando and Hans Riemer are the lead sponsors for this proposed legislation. A school resource officer is a sworn uniformed law officer trained in emergency preparedness, crisis management, community policing concepts and problem solving who is assigned to work as a liaison to Montgomery County Public Schools. The Montgomery County Police Department currently has 23 police officers assigned to work as SROs in specific public schools pursuant to an existing memorandum of understanding with Montgomery County Public Schools. A public hearing is tentatively scheduled for January 12.
In a memorandum from Jawando and Riemer to the County Council, they explain that “while we know our SRO’s are good people doing the job they have been assigned, there are better research-based approaches to resolving disciplinary problems and more effective ways to use precious county resources. School counselors, nurses, therapists, and security guards are better equipped to help students deal with the challenges that today may result in arrests. We should address behavioral problems early through guidance, mental health support, and restorative justice techniques rather than criminalizing adolescent mistakes.”
The legislation would invest in mental health professionals and restorative justice, while discontinuing the SRO program, saving approximately $3 million annually in future fiscal years. Beginning next year, the $3 million in savings would be allocated to 3 separate programs that will address the needs of students:
- Providing funding for an after school student service hub model to reduce risk factors for students through the Montgomery County Collaboration Council ($406,000)
- Providing recreational therapeutic group activities for students through HHS ($312,455)
- Providing funding for restorative justice training for MCPS educators and staff ($750,000).
The hashtag #PoliceFreeSchoolsMoCo is being used for this bill on social media.
Stay tuned to Conduit Street for the latest.