Jawando reiterates need for police reform during virtual discussion

Jawando reiterates need for police reform during virtual discussion

He was joined by other advocates on Thursday

| Published:

Montgomery County Council Member Will Jawando

File photo

Montgomery County Council Member Will Jawando restated his goals for police reform in the county during a virtual forum on Thursday, expressing his support for shifting funding from the police department to other services, and making changes to the School Resource Officer (SRO) program among other topics

Jawando, who took questions from viewers, said he doesn’t think SROs are “bad people” but that there is a greater need for school nurses and counselors, and that county money would be better spent on those services.

“That doesn’t mean police can’t come and do programming and meet with our students and talk about the job they do. That can happen. But they don’t need to be in an enforcement role in our schools,” he said.

In response to a question about the “defund the police movement,” which generally means shifting money away from law enforcement toward other social services, Jawando said he instead calls the concept “re-imagining policing” but supports the goals.

Jawando added that Montgomery County’s police department has the fifth lowest starting salary out of six departments in the greater Washington region.

“If we’re gonna demand high standards, we need to pay police officers well,” he said.

Jawando also touted the County Council’s passage of a bill in July that makes changes to the police department’s use-of-force policy. That bill bans the use of chokeholds, limits no-knock warrants and limits the use of lethal force by officers among other things.

Jawando was joined by other police reform advocates during the call, including

Danielle Blocker, the president of Young People for Progress, a social justice organization for people under 35. Blocker said she agrees with Montgomery County’s police reform effort.

“We ask police to do too much in some instances. They shouldn’t have to be the first and only responders to a lot of issues,” she said.

“When we make police responsible for a lot of quality of life problems for things like mental distress … housing and homelessness issues, we could be reinvesting that money into things that prevent some of those problems from occurring,” she said.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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