The latest headline from Bethesda Beat Magazine 2021 reads…

POLICE & FIRE – Departures, sagging recruitment plague Montgomery County police even as crime soars

Shocking? — Perhaps, but this is the outcome of demonizing, harassing and vilifying our men and women in Blue! Here is what the Bethesda Beat and Goldstein had to say …

“Attrition is spiking within the Montgomery County Police Department, and the number of officers signaling an intent to leave in the next several years has nearly doubled in a year’s time — even as recruitment lags and crime soars. Between April 2020 and April 2021, police resignations rose 26 percent, from 19 to 24, over the preceding 12 months. Retirements increased 18 percent, from 28 to 33, department data show.”

So, what could be driving this trend across our County’s law enforcement ranks? I suppose you have to be living under a rock to know that the County’s leadership has engineered a relentless attack on the County police department.

This attack finds its roots in thoughts and ideas expressed in the overly hyped 1619 Project and the idea that modem day law enforcement is the equivalent of the runaway slave patrols of the old South. This is the theme that Will Jawando, Montgomery County Councilmember, has been pushing on the residents of the County.

His “Defund the Police” rhetoric along with eliminating School Resource Officers in Montgomery County Public Schools directly reflect his attitude toward law enforcement in Montgomery County. Slave patrols across the County? What is the truth here?

As far back as 2002, we can find Department of Justice studies on the performance of Montgomery County Police with statistics that were compiled between the years 1993 – 1999. If there was a time for the police to misbehave in an unequal racial manner across the County, this would have been it. But here is what the study tells us:

This report describes the types and amount of force used by and against the police in Montgomery County, Maryland for the seven years between January 1993 to December 1999. This study is based on official records of the use of force and of arrests maintained by the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD). Although not without limitations, these data provide an especially valuable basis for understanding what constitutes a force incident and how the use of different types of force varies over time and circumstances. The nature of these reports are described in the MCPD Use of Force policies and in separate directives on completing a Use of Force Report. Beginning with an April 1992 MCPD policy statement, MCPD officers were required to complete a Use of Force Report (MCP 37) any time a police officer uses force which:

1) results in an injury to an individual,

2) where an individual claims he/she is injured as a result of the amount of force

3) where force is applied by use of a protective instrument, whenever a firearm is

4) whenever a departmental canine inflicts injury to any subject or defendant in

used, discharged (other than authorized target practice), or conjunction with a search, arrest attempt, or apprehension.

In addition, a September 1992 MCPD policy memorandum on completion of Form MCP 37 expands the reporting requirement to any time…

5) a police officer uses any form of force, and

6) whenever a police officer is the victim of any type of force or is assaulted.

In the interest of brevity, I will not review the entire study; but I will select some key indicators of the Justice Department’s assessment if where our County Police were at that time:

Finding 1.1: Amount of Force – The use of force by Montgomery County police officer’s is infrequent …

Finding 1.3: Use of Hands and Feet – In every year from 1993 to 1999, the most frequent type of force used by Montgomery County officers involved the use of hands and feet only. So, it does not appear that there is a history of “hunting” Black men like the slave patrols of the old South …

Finding 1.4: Use of OC Spray – In every year from 1993 to 1999, the second most frequent type of force reported is the use of OC Spray. No guns here either …

Finding 1.5: Use of Canines – From 1993 to 1998, the use of canines was the third most frequent type of force used by the Montgomery County police department. Still, no one getting shot in the streets …

Finding 1.6: Type of Force Used by Suspects – Hands and feet are the most frequent types of force used by suspects. Firearms or knives were used by suspects in two percent of all use of force incidents …

Finding 1.7: Type of Injuries to Suspects – Suspects were injured in just over half of all use of force incidents.
The most typical types of injuries involved exposure to OC spray, lacerations and dog bites.

We could go on, but I think you get the picture. In 2021, the Chief of the Montgomery County Police issued his own ANNUAL USE OF FORCE REPORT – 2020

Chief Marcus Jones

The Chief summarizes his report by noting:

In 2020, there were 474 uses of force in response to resistance reported, a decrease of 14 percent from 2019. That means force was used by officers in 0.25 percent of the total dispatched calls for service, and only used in 3.3 percent of all arrests made by officers. In about 80 percent of incidents, officers used no protective instruments or weapons. Instead, officers used only their hands while attempting to place a subject in custody or otherwise gain control of them. Similarly, this was the most common type of force used against our officers by subjects, in a year in which the number of assaults on officers dropped by 7 percent. Officers reported a total of 474 use of force incidents in response to resistance.

  1. Force was only used by officers in 0.25% of the total dispatched calls for service.
  2. Five districts, Bethesda, (2D), Silver Spring (3D), Wheaton (4D), Germantown (5D), and Gaithersburg (6D) experienced decreases in the number of reported use of force incidents from the previous year, while one district, Rockville (1D), reported an increase.”

The Report goes on to tell us that:

“In 2020, there were decreases across all categories in the number of African American, Asian or Pacific Islander, Hispanic, and Caucasian subjects involved in use of force incidents of 20%, 36%, 12%, and 10% respectively, compared to 2019.”

With overall statistics spanning the calendar from 1993 to 2020, why should we not simply dismiss comments like this one in the Bethesda Beat article —

“I absolutely have to fear these people walking around with badges and guns,” said Carlean Ponder, co-chair of the Silver Spring Justice Coalition, which has pushed for police reform. “I have seen too many instances of abuse. It’s not a few rotten apples. We have a lot. We have a system that protects them. I’m supposed to be able to call them for help. … The county executive needs to do his job and get a chief in here who can hold officers accountable.”

Perhaps it’s time to hold people like Ms. Ponder and Will Jawando accountable for the divisive and inflammatory rhetoric – the statistics simply do not support their narrative — Not in Montgomery County, Maryland. It is time for a great awakening by Montgomery County residents — that all things considered, they live in a safe community and that it can be made better by having a fully funded competent and welltrained police. The presence of a police cruiser is not the slave patrol.

We need to work together to solve the problem of recruiting the type of people we need on the force, and that work starts at the ballot box!





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