Inclusion | Opportunity | Innovation

Fortaleciendo la supervisión policial

Estimado residente,

Como comunidad que proporciona liderazgo en temas importantes, el Condado de Montgomery con el apoyo de la comunidad tiene la oportunidad de fortalecer el trabajo policial.

Sé que tenemos un excelente Departamento Policial, lleno de servidores públicos conscientes, responsables y altamente profesionales.

A la misma vez, no somos inmunes a los desafíos que enfrentan las comunidades en todo el país.

“La vigilancia debe dirigirse en una dirección diferente en lo que respecta a la transparencia y a la participación de la comunidad”, comentó recientemente un jefe de la policía local cuando discutimos sobre la situación en todo el país y aquí en casa. “Lo que estamos haciendo ahora no está funcionando.”

Por eso, el 18 de junio, presentaré una legislación con el Concejal Will Jawando, con el apoyo de NAACP, Identity, Casa de Maryland, ACLU, Judíos Unidos por la Justicia entre otros grupos, para establecer una Comisión de Vigilancia Policial.

La Comisión permitirá la participación “civil” en la formulación de políticas del Departamento de Policía, utilizando datos y centrándose en las mejores prácticas, y fortaleciendo la función de supervisión del Consejo.

A diferencia de las juntas de supervisión de civiles en otras jurisdicciones, esta comisión no abarcará asuntos disciplinarios. No revisará las quejas sobre un oficial ni investigará incidentes relacionados con la policía. Si bien esos son asuntos cruciales, la ley del estado de Maryland niega a un cuerpo como este jurisdicción sobre asuntos de personal.

En su lugar, esta Comisión se centrará en las políticas que pueden evitar que estos incidentes ocurran en primer lugar. Por ejemplo:

  • Policía comunitaria: ¿cómo podemos convertirnos en una fuerza policial comunitaria más fuerte?
  • Capacitación de técnicas de de-intensificación durante intervenciones policiales: ¿está nuestro programa bien implementado y entre las mejores prácticas?
  • Paradas de tráfico: ¿cuáles son los resultados de las paradas de tráfico? ¿Qué muestran los datos? ¿Cuál es el costo / beneficio?

No hay duda que temas como estos son apropiados para ser discutidos y supervisados por el público. De hecho,las profundas consecuencias que tienen las acciones policiales hacen que el público merezca ser parte de la discusión y vigilancia.

Históricamente, asuntos de política se tratan internamente con el liderazgo de la policía. El departamento de policía toma decisiones de política con supervisión mínima del Ejecutivo y el Consejo del Condado y con contribución limitada del público.

Ahí es donde entra en juego la nueva Comisión. Al tener residentes expertos en política penal y que representan a comunidades que no siempre han escuchado sobre asuntos policiales, la comisión se reunirá y deliberara sobre asuntos de política que son de gran interés público. Investigadores apoyaran a la Comisión para ayudar a garantizar una conversación basada en hechos.

La Comisión hará recomendaciones al Departamento y al Consejo del Condado. Un gran ejemplo de este enfoque se opera con éxito en Sacramento, donde la iniciativa ha recibido apoyo no solo de los grupos comunitarios sino también del departamento de policía.

Una fuerte coalición está abogando por este proyecto de ley, varias organizaciones se han dirigido recientemente en una carta al Consejo y al Ejecutivo del Condado planteando su posición frente a este proyecto “se convertirá en un camino importante para mejorar la confianza entre la comunidad y el Departamento de Policía.”

Es posible que haya visto un editorial recientemente en el Washington Post sobre la propuesta. El Post declaró:

Con más de 1 millón de residentes, Montgomery es la jurisdicción más poblada de Maryland. Es un líder y un líder cuyo ejemplo podría incitar a otras localidades a diseñar una vigilancia civil más significativa de lo que se aplica en la ley. La comisión puede iniciarse prontamente , o puede verse obligada a actuar más adelante, bajo presión y en medio de una probable controversia como cuando se produce una muerte injustificada a manos de la policía. El momento de actuar es ahora.

Estoy de acuerdo con la creación de una comisión civil de vigilancia policial, y espero trabajar a través del proceso legislativo con mis colegas del Consejo durante el verano y otoño.

Una audiencia pública del comité está programada tentativamente para el 9 de julio seguido por sesiones de trabajo y discusiones.

Gracias por su atención! Si tiene comentarios, por favor, comparta enviándome un correo electrónico a Councilmember.Riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Sinceramente,

Hans Riemer Signature

Hans Riemer
Concejal del Condado de Montgomery


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Strengthening police oversight

Dear Resident:

As a community that provides leadership on important issues, Montgomery County has an opportunity to strengthen police work by building greater community support.

I know that we have an excellent Police Department – full of conscientious and highly professional public servants.

But we are obviously not immune from the challenges that communities all over the country are facing.

“Policing needs to go in a different direction on transparency and community engagement,” a local police chief recently shared with me as we discussed the situation around the Country and here at home. “Where we are now isn’t working.”

That is why, on June 18th, I am introducing legislation with Councilmember Will Jawando, supported by the NAACP, Identity, Casa de Maryland, ACLU, Jews United for Justice and other groups, to establish a Policing Advisory Commission.

The Commission would allow for “civilian” participation in Police Department policy formulation, using data and focusing on best practices, and strengthening the Council’s oversight role.

Unlike civilian oversight boards in other jurisdictions, this Commission would not address disciplinary matters. It would not review complaints about an officer, or investigate a police-involved incident. While those are crucial matters, Maryland state law denies a body like this jurisdiction over personnel matters.

Instead, this Commission would focus on the policies that could prevent these incidents from occurring in the first place. For example:

  • Community police — how can we become more of a community police force?
  • De-escalation training — is our program a best practice and is it well implemented?
  • Traffic stops — what are the outcomes from traffic stops? What does the data show? What is the cost/benefit?

There is no doubt that issues like these are appropriate for public discussion and oversight. In fact, given the profound consequences of police action, there is nothing more deserving of public discussion and oversight.

Historically, these kinds of policy issues are often addressed internally at the Department, with the police leadership making policy decisions with minimal oversight from the County Executive and Council and limited input from the public.

That is where a Commission comes in. With members drawn from residents who are experts in criminal justice policy as well as representing communities that have not always been heard on police issues, the body would meet and deliberate over policy matters that are of significant public concern. Researchers would support the Commission to help ensure a data-driven conversation.

The Commission would make recommendations to the Department and the County Council. A great example of this approach is successfully operating in Sacramento, where the initiative has earned support not only from community groups but also the police department there.

A strong coalition is advocating for the bill because, as the groups recently wrote in a letter to the Council and County Executive, the Commission “will become an important pathway to enhance trust between the community and the Police Department.”

You may have seen a recent editorial in the Washington Post about the proposal. The Post stated:

With more than 1 million residents, Montgomery is Maryland’s most populous jurisdiction. It is a bellwether and a leader whose example could prompt other localities to fashion more meaningful civilian oversight of law enforcement. It can move proactively now, or be forced to act later, under pressure and amid controversy, when an unwarranted death occurs at the hands of police. The former is the smarter way to go.

I agree, and I look forward to working through the legislative process with my Council colleagues over this summer and into the fall.

A public hearing is tentatively set for July 9 with committee and full Council worksessions to follow.

Thanks for reading and participating. If you have feedback, please share by emailing me at Councilmember.Riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Sincerely,

Hans Riemer Signature

Hans Riemer
Councilmember, At-large

The Council Connection — housing affordability

Council Connection Masthead

Council President’s Message

The Council returns to session this week, and we have a full agenda.

Housing Affordability
The Council will introduce legislation sponsored by the members of the planning and housing committee (PHED) that will enable changes for accessory dwelling units. The legislation would allow the county’s Department of Housing and Community Affairs to approve applications rather than requiring hearings before the Board of Appeals. The Council is also seeking input about additional changes that could be made to enable this type of housing construction. Please share your thoughts with us by writing a note to county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov. The public hearing will occur on September 11, 2018 at 1:30pm.

The Council will also take up significant legislation changing the code for our Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit program – a visionary law first enacted in Montgomery County in 1973 and since copied in jurisdictions across the Country. The MPDU law requires that 12.5% of all new developments with more than 20 housing units be set aside in the County’s affordable program. The law has produced more than 11,000 affordable units since its creation (though many aged out of their control period before it was extended to 99 years). Bill 34-17, sponsored by Councilmember Floreen, would make several changes to update and strengthen the law. Bill 38-17, sponsored by Council President Riemer, would increase the requirement to 15% in the areas of the County with the least affordable housing. Both laws will be before the full Council after extensive committee discussion.

Next, a number of specific items of interest:

Council research projects
The Council’s research arm, the Office of Legislative Oversight, plans projects including: minimum wage, 311, racial equity, and student loan refinancing. The Council will approve the full work program on Tuesday.

Economic development incentives
Partnering with the State, the Council agenda includes the approval of a number of economic development incentives for the expansion of companies based in Montgomery County, including Altimmune, Abt Associates, HMS Host, and Applied Biomimetics. You can learn more here.

Arts nonprofit taking space at Silver Spring Library
After a competitive selection process, the County entered into an agreement with Arts on the Block to occupy space in the Silver Spring Library. Arts on the Block is a local non-profit organization focused on empowering creative youth. Welcome to the Silver Spring Library, Arts on the Block!

New Assistant Police Chief
The County Executive has nominated, and the Council is poised to confirm, Mr. David C. Anderson as Assistant Police Chief. The current Police Commander of District 1 station, Mr. Anderson will bring 28 years of distinguished service at MCPD to his new role.

Stormwater
We will act on a special appropriation to the County’s stormwater program. This appropriation is the result of a compromise between the County Executive and the Council that allows for greater efficiencies in our stormwater program while maintaining Council oversight.

And finally:

Update on mobile communications infrastructure
The Council recently approved carefully calibrated zoning changes in our commercial and industrial zones to speed the deployment of next-generation wireless technology. There is still work more to be done, but the Council is making progress on this important issue. Nevertheless, there are efforts underway at the FCC and in Congress to strip away our authority on siting wireless infrastructure.

To combat these efforts, this week I met with FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, on behalf of the County, to share our concerns with these preemption efforts and to request an update of the decades old radio frequency (RF) emissions standards. Commissioner Carr has been designated as lead Commissioner on small cell deployments and is believed to be drafting a proposal for Commission consideration in the fall. I reiterated for Commissioner Carr the message delivered to Chairman Pai by Ike Leggett, Jamie Raskin and myself last year — that the FCC should not preempt local governments but rather work with us as partners to ensure successful deployment; and that FCC should refresh its RF standards.

Cordially,

Hans Riemer Signature

Hans Riemer
Council President

RECENT ACTIONS

  • Members of the Council’s Public Safety Committee received an update from Montgomery County Police Department officials on the department’s internal affairs investigation process, in light of the recent officer-involved shooting in Silver Spring.
  • Members of the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee reviewed bills on solar panels and climate policy, and receiving a briefing on the County’s composting and food waste plan.

The Council Connection — Council prioritizes fire and rescue services

Council Connection Masthead

Council President’s Message

This Thursday, May 24, the Council will formally approve the budgets for the upcoming fiscal year. The Council has worked hard and collaboratively throughout this process. With our remarkable staff and engaged community, we have produced a budget that is restrained and responsible, does not raise taxes, and ensures the County will continue to provide the superb services that so many of our residents appreciate so much.

I credit the County Executive with making many great decisions in his budget, including fully funding Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). The County Executive’s budget also presented some daunting challenges in public safety.

Faced with cuts that would have negatively impacted fire and rescue service in Germantown, Hyattstown, and Silver Spring, the Council found a way to change priorities to fund over $7 million for critical public safety services. This amount was about half of all of our adjustments, demonstrating the importance we place on the issue. People take for granted that when their house is on fire, or when their spouse has a heart attack, that someone will respond quickly. We prioritized that quick response time in this budget.

Last week we reviewed some highlights from the MCPS budget; this week we take a closer look at public safety.

Fire and Rescue:
The County Executive’s recommended MCFRS operating budget totaled $211 million, down 1.7% from last year. This would have cut a total of $3.5 million and 29 career firefighter positions from the Fire and Rescue Service. The most significant proposed cuts would have taken three response units out of service, including a paramedic engine in Hyattstown, a paramedic engine in Germantown, and an aerial tower in Hillandale. Together, these cuts totaled $5.8 million.

All three cuts would increase response times in the response units’ first due areas. Hyattstown and Germantown each would have increased from 6-8 minutes to 10-12 minutes. Hillandale response times for an aerial unit would have increased from eight minutes to 12 minutes. While the County Executive had a plan to transfer firefighter positions to mitigate the increased response times, the Council ultimately chose to restore funding for all three response units and provide funding for additional staffing in Burtsonsville and for volunteer firefighters. All in all, the Council provided an additional $6.5 million to Fire and Rescue.

Police:
The County Executive’s recommended Police budget totaled $279 million, up 1.5% from last year. The Police Department budget was one of the few public safety budgets that had a budget increase for FY19. However, the County Executive’s proposed budget did not include any new police officer positions, and in fact, it lapsed six police officer positions for the year.

The Council discussed School Resource Officers at length, given the “Maryland Safe to Learn” act that the General Assembly just passed this year in response to the recent school shooting in St. Mary’s County. Currently, the SRO program, which includes not only MCPD officers, but also officers from the City of Rockville Police Department, City of Gaithersburg Police Department, and the Office of the Sheriff, provides 27 officers and deputies assigned to each County public high school. These officers are also responsible for assisting with any issues within their respective middle schools. The new state law, however, requires that each Maryland jurisdiction has either an SRO or “adequate local law enforcement coverage” at every school for the 2019-2020 school year. Given the complexity and reach of the new state law, Council committees will examine the law and its mandates in more depth on July 19.

This year, however, the Council added three new SRO positions that will be assigned to middle schools. The Council also added one new vice unit detective position that will address human trafficking concerns in the County.

Sheriff:
The County Executive’s recommended Sheriff budget totaled $23 million, down 1.1% from last year. An important issue for the Sheriff’s Office this year was body worn cameras. In October 2017, the Sheriff’s Office took advantage of a free body worn camera pilot program offered through Axon, the vendor who supplies body cameras for the County Police Department. The Sheriff’s Office has 162 deputies who are outfitted with body worn cameras. These cameras are important both for accountability as well as safety purposes. Deputies are often in potentially volatile situations while serving domestic violence protective orders and mental health-related emergency evaluation petitions. This risk is especially true after the General Assembly passed additional domestic violence and gun control laws, such as the “red flag” law (HB1302) that permits the Sheriff to confiscate guns from individuals who have been deemed by the court to be an extreme risk to self or others.

The Council approved an additional $229,903 to permit the Sheriff’s Office to maintain the program through FY19.

The next few weeks we will continue our exploration of the County budget. Stay tuned.

Cordially,

Hans Riemer Signature

Hans Riemer
Council President

How do I…

… find out what items and grants the Council added to the budget?

Although the County Executive sent the Council a very good budget, the Council has the final say. The Council reconciles competing community priorities and available resources through its “reconciliation” process. This year, the Council was able to identify almost $15 million in resources to invest into critical services identified by the community. The Council also programmed over $2.8 million for grants to non-profits in the County. Check out the details here.