Man accused of firing shot at employee who issued violation

Montgomery County has released its final recommendations for police accountability as part of a police department audit.

County Executive Marc Elrich, Montgomery County Police Department Chief Marcus Jones and Bernice Mireku-North, the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force Member co-chair, presented the final recommendations by Effective Law Enforcement for All that offer improvements in officer education, supervision, practices, accountability and public transparency on Friday.

Recommendations include improvement of use of force training for officers, expanded deployment of body-worn cameras, cultural sensitivity training and changes to the ways mental health crises are handled by the county.

The county partnered with Effective Law Enforcement For All to identify, evaluate, and recommend structural and systemic improvements MCPD can implement to achieve safe and effective law enforcement, according to a county press release. Effective Law Enforcement For All is a nonprofit that works with community leaders to make changes to policing, its website states. EFELA has offices in Silver Spring and in New Orleans.

 ELEFA’s audit included evaluation of the department’s organizational culture, policies, resources, transparency, procedures and operations. The task force and ELEFA released a preliminary audit report in June 2021, and recommended changes to the police department, including re-examining how use-of-force incidents are reviewed and improving de-escalation tactics. Since then, ELEFA has continued its audit of the MCPD, working in close cooperation with MCPD and other constituent organizations.

Key recommendations in the final report include:

  • Use of Force: ELEFA has made several recommendations to improve the training, management and investigation of uses of force by MCPD officers
  • Mental Health and Crisis Response: Building on the observations in the Preliminary Report, ELEFA has made recommendations intended to improve the county’s capacity to respond to individuals experiencing a mental or emotional health crisis, to enhance officer mental health crisis response training, and to ensure better understanding by both officers and the public of the ecosystem of resources available to assist individuals in crisis
  • Internal Investigations: Uses of force and misconduct complaints are independently, uniformly, and transparently investigated and reported
  • Training: To improve the quality of recruit and in-service training, including field officer training, and to expand training to improve cultural sensitivity and reduce the risks presented by explicit and implicit bias
    • Police training academy emphasize a “Guardian” approach over a “Warrior” mindset
    • Improvements to the MCPD’s data analysis systems to achieve user-friendly, integrated and comprehensive data analysis capacity.
    • Adopt an Early Warning and Intervention System. By flagging warning signs that an officer is demonstrating performance issues or is suffering from emotional, mental or physical health concerns, an effective and comprehensive EWIS system allows supervisors to intervene proactively to prevent harm to the officer or the public
  • Body Worn Cameras: Expanded deployment of Body Worn Cameras and improvements to the standards guiding the recording of officers’ interactions on duty
  • Recruitment: More intentional consideration of diversity and inclusion, competitive compensation, incentives and enhanced technology (for background investigators)

MCPD will also hire a civilian Ph.D. to oversee the police training curriculum and to direct development of law enforcement training materials as recommended by the audit.

Elrich convened the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force in 2020 as one of multiple ways the county has tried to make changes to policing.

“Too often law enforcement has been left to manage situations that society has failed to address that is neither their job nor responsibility,” Elrich said in a press release. “There has been a misconception that we have to choose between public safety, transparency, and accountability. We need public safety, but that can only be achieved through a partnership between police and the community … By improving trainings as well as expanding our efforts to address mental health, we will provide more meaningful help for people in crisis with fewer negative interactions.”