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Press Releases - County Council

Council appoints members of the Policing Advisory Commission to improve oversight of the Montgomery County Police Department

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Newly-appointed commission will provide advice on policing matters, evaluate police department policies and practices and propose ways to enhance positive community engagement

Rockville, Md., July 28, 2020—Today the Council approved appointments for 15 members of the Policing Advisory Commission which will provide enhanced oversight of the Montgomery County Police Department while working to improve community trust in police. In Dec. 2019, the Council unanimously enacted Bill 14-19 which established the Policing Advisory Commission. In accordance with the law, the Council selected nine members for appointment and the County Executive selected four members. Additionally, the police chief or a designee, and the president of the Fraternal Order of Police, or a designee, serve as non-voting, ex-officio members. The Policing Advisory Commission will advise the Council on policing matters, provide information regarding best practices, recommend policies, and engage in public education and other programs related to policing in Montgomery County.

“The Policing Advisory Commission will play a significant role in helping our community understand policing,” said Council President Sidney Katz. “Policies and practices are at the root of how residents experience policing, and commission members will provide essential advice about ways we can improve community and police interactions and enhance positive community engagement. Montgomery County is fortunate to have many exceptional applicants who sought to serve on the Policing Advisory Commission, and the Council deeply appreciates the time each took to apply and go through the interview and selection process.”

“The Policing Advisory Commission will help ensure Montgomery County stays at the cutting edge of policymaking to reinvent public safety,” said Councilmember Hans Riemer, who was the lead sponsor of Bill 14-19. “I thank every one of the more than 250 residents who applied, and I look forward to working with the commission going forward.”

As mandated in the law, the newly-appointed Policing Advisory Commission members reflect the racial and economic diversity of the county’s communities. In addition, each Councilmember selected one of the nine Council nominees, and four members were nominated by the County Executive for appointment, including two youth members. Commission members serve three-year terms.

The Council selected the following community members to serve on the Policing Advisory Committee: Cherri Branson, Caroline Fredrickson, Jenn Lynn, Shabab Ahmed Mirza, Jerome Price, Justice Reid, Vernon Ricks, Nadia Salazar Sandi and Eric Sterling. The County Executive selected the following community members: Robin Gaster, Alicia Hudson, Dalbin Osorio and Jasmine Williams. The Council selected Vernon Ricks to serve and interim chair and Cherri Branson to serve as interim vice chair of the commission until the group votes to select a permanent chair and vice chair.

Below is information about the members of the commission selected by the Council.

Cherri Branson is the third vice president of the Montgomery County Chapter of the NAACP and spent more than two decades working as legislative and legal counsel in the U.S. House of Representatives. She is the former director of Montgomery County's Office of Procurement. In 2014, she served as a Councilmember and raised concerns about police accountability, the use of force and transparency in the police complaint process. She also was a member of the Charter Review Commission. Branson resides in Silver Spring.

Caroline Fredrickson is a senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice and a visiting professor from practice at Georgetown Law Center where she teaches courses in labor, employment, constitutional law and democracy. She is the former president of the American Constitution Society, where she was a spokesperson for the progressive movement on issues such as policing, civil and human rights, judicial nominations and the importance of courts in America, anti-discrimination efforts and more. Fredrickson resides in Silver Spring.

Jenn Lynn is the executive director for Upcounty Community Resources, Inc. and serves on the Montgomery County Commission for People with Disabilities. She is a disability rights advocate and has worked with her son to train more than 3,000 law enforcement officers about communicating and de-escalating police encounters with those with developmental, cognitive and intellectual disabilities. Lynn resides in Germantown.

Shabab Ahmed Mirza is a research assistant for LGBTQ Progress at the Center for American Progress. As a policy professional, she has studied the impact of policing on marginalized communities and has developed recommendations for advancing criminal justice reform. She also is a community organizer and currently serves as a board member and treasurer for Desis for Progress. Mirza resides in Silver Spring.

Jerome Price is a teacher of U.S. and African American History for Montgomery County Public Schools. He created and runs the Jaguars Scholars Leadership Program that supports high-achieving African American and Latino students at Richard Montgomery High School. He also worked with school administration, faculty and students to develop lesson plans to combat hate following the 2017 Charlottesville protests. Price resides in Rockville.

Justice Reid is a general manager for Microsoft where he has led efforts to partner with police departments in several major jurisdictions to customize information technology solutions to meet law enforcement objectives. Reid is familiar with the inner workings of law enforcement and how private and public entities can come together for the greater good. Reid resides in Bethesda.

Vernon Ricks is chair of the Chief of Police African American Community Liaison Committee and vice president of the Board of Directors for Montgomery Community Media. He is also a member of the County's Alcohol Beverage Advisory Board but will step down from this board to serve on the commission. Ricks was elected as the first Black municipal official in Montgomery County, serving as a councilman and mayor pro-tem in the City of Takoma Park. Ricks served in the U.S. Air Force and worked for the Xerox Corporation for 33 years. Ricks resides in Potomac.

Nadia Salazar Sandi is a union organizer and advocate for LiUNA Mid-Atlantic. She also worked as an advocacy and policy manager for Identity Inc. Sandi has implemented organizing campaigns in the fields of immigrant rights, social justice and labor rights. She has worked to build relationships with leaders throughout the country to develop strategies to foster community involvement through advocacy and civic engagement. Sandi resides in Silver Spring.

Eric Sterling has worked for more than a decade as the executive director for The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation. He also worked as assistant counsel in the U.S. House of Representatives and as an assistant public defender. Sterling served on the County's Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Advisory Council for 10 years and served three terms as chair. He also served on the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission. Sterling resides in Chevy Chase.

Below is information about the members of the commission selected by the Executive.

Dr. Robin Gaster is president of Incumetrics Inc., a visiting scholar at George Washington University Institute of Public Policy and a non-resident fellow at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. Gaster's primary professional interests lie in economic innovation metrics and assessment, small business, regional economic development, transformation in education and the rise of big technology companies. His personal experience with police led him to seek changes in policing in Montgomery County. Gaster resides in Silver Spring.

Alicia Hudson is a hearing examiner for Child and Family Services in Washington, D.C. and is an instructor at Brightwood Educational Campus where she teaches English as a Second Language. Her career is focused on public service as both a multicultural educator and advocate for indigent and underserved persons. As an attorney, she has also provided years of pro bono legal representation to those in need. Hudson resides in Silver Spring.

Dalbin Osorio is a program manager for the Montgomery County Collaboration Council working on issues impacting children with intensive needs. He is a social worker and former educator who has seen firsthand the long-term impacts that inequitable policies can have on individuals and their families. Before joining the Collaboration Council, Osorio worked as a school therapist at the Village Academy of Maryland and as a foster care social worker at the Latin American Youth Center. He is also a Maryland Education Policy Fellow. Osorio resides in Gaithersburg and will serve as one of the commission's youth members.

Jasmine Williams is a student and Advanced Placement Power Scholar at Clarksburg High School. In 2019, she served as a junior legislative aide at the Council. In that role she conducted research for several initiatives including the Policing Advisory Commission. She believes that local governments have the responsibility to mend broken relations with the police and community members. Williams resides in Clarksburg and will serve as one of the commission's youth members.

The Council staff report and appointment resolution can be found here.

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Release ID: 20-336
Media Contact: Sonya Healy 240-777-7926 , Juan Jovel 240-777-7931