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Press Releases - County Council

Council enacts legislation spearheaded by Councilmembers Jawando, Rice, Navarro and Albornoz to help limit excessive use of force by police

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Expedited Bill 27-20 establishes policy to prohibit chokeholds and limit the use of deadly force, no-knock warrants and shooting at vehicles; also requires police officers to take action when observing excessive force

ROCKVILLE, Md., July 29, 2020—Today the Council unanimously enacted Expedited Bill 27-20, Police-Regulations-Use of Force Policy, which requires the Montgomery County police chief to adopt a Use of Force Policy aimed at safeguarding all community members from excessive use of force by police. Councilmembers Will Jawando, Craig Rice, Nancy Navarro and Gabe Albornoz are the lead sponsors of Expedited Bill 27-20 that was initiated by Councilmember Jawando. All other Councilmembers are cosponsors.

Expedited Bill 27-20 establishes a Use of Force Policy that at a minimum prohibits a police officer from using deadly force except when absolutely necessary, as a last resort, when no other alternatives are available. The policy must include prohibiting neck or carotid restraint and striking a restrained individual. The policy also must limit the police from using deadly force against a fleeing person. Moreover, the bill limits no-knock warrants and prohibits shooting at moving vehicles, unless the vehicle is being used as a weapon and the circumstances would authorize the use of deadly force.

“We are called as a nation to end the dangerous and deadly use of excessive force by police officers. Here in Montgomery County, as we reimagine public safety in our community, we must change police policy in order to protect our residents -- particularly residents of color who suffer from excessive police force at a horrifically disproportionate rate,” Councilmember Will Jawando said. “Our bill creates a clear and logical baseline for what is an appropriate use of force by any Montgomery County police officer, and identifies what is not.”

“It is troubling that in 2020 we are still experiencing racism and bias,” said Councilmember Craig Rice. “As a society, we have come so far yet so much remains the same. When ingrained racism shapes interactions our police have with the community, we must call it out and address it in order to expect any real change. This bill needs to happen because our officers are there to serve and protect us, and we need to know they are doing everything possible to avoid actions that can ultimately result in a loss of life. I support our police officers who put their lives at risk every day, but we need to continue to send a message galvanized in law, that use of force is a last resort, so our resident’s lives are not put at risk as well.”

“Today is an important moment in Montgomery County’s history. This Council, building on previous work, including the Community Policing Bill I spearheaded last year, has approved a landmark Use of Force Bill which sets the foundation for a new policing approach in our community,” said Councilmember Nancy Navarro. “We must codify in legislation the changes we hope to achieve. We must end this cycle through awareness and needed legislation.”

“The past few months have been filled with raw emotion, open dialogue and deep reflection among County residents and public officials alike,” said Councilmember Gabe Albornoz. “I am proud to join my colleagues Councilmembers Jawando, Navarro, and Rice to establish a new standard of policing in Montgomery County. By enacting the Use of Force bill, this will place us on the path toward building trust between County residents and law enforcement. Change is hard but it is absolutely necessary for us to create a more perfect and inclusive County.”

The Use of Force Policy must also provide guidelines and clear directives on protecting all individuals without regard to race, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation. These rules must include information on protecting community members with behavioral, mental or physical disabilities, children, elderly persons, pregnant individuals, persons with limited English proficiency and populations that are disproportionately impacted by inequities. The police chief must develop these guidelines in consultation with the Policing Advisory Commission, communities and organizations including representatives from civil and human rights organizations, victims of police use of force and representatives of law enforcement organizations.

Expedited Bill 27-20 also requires police officers to stop or attempt to stop the use of excessive force or the commission of a crime by another officer. Police officers who intervene to de-escalate the excessive use of force must not be retaliated against or disciplined for taking action. The bill makes the use of deadly force the choice of last resort to protect one's life or the life of another or against serious bodily injury, as there must be no other alternative for less lethal force existing at the time of the police action.

The minimum standards established by the Use of Force Policy in Expedited Bill 27-20 are not subject to collective bargaining. Officers who violate these new police policies would be subject to discipline under the State Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights. Similar laws and policies have also been enacted in California, Seattle and San Francisco.

Expedited Bill 27-20 and the Council staff report can be viewed here.

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Release ID: 20-341
Media Contact: Sonya Healy 240-777-7926 , Juan Jovel 240-777-7931