BACK THE BLUE APRIL 30

APRIL 30

Our Montgomery County Police deserve our respect, and our gratitude. But while our Police Department shrinks in size, Councilmember Will Jawando continues to set up roadblocks that will make their job more difficult. We have an opportunity to honor our Police Department tomorrow, April 30 (see below).

Police have to make good decisions quickly. There are so many things to think about when making a traffic stop. Seconds matter. Sometimes they don’t even have time to react before they are critically injured or killed. 

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando seems to take traffic enforcement personally. In 2019, he claimed that police stopped him because of racial profiling. But according to Fox Baltimore, State Police said: "‘Trooper Shu saw a vehicle pass his car, cross the stop line and enter the intersection before stopping. He initiated a traffic stop and contacted the driver, requesting his license and registration. The driver, Mr. Jawando, explained he had lost his current driver’s license and had requested a duplicate. He gave the trooper his expired driver’s license.’”

“State Police said the traffic stop was initiated ‘simply because of the violation he observed. This was not a pretextual stop. The vehicle had passed and stopped in front of him. He did not know the race or sex of the driver before stopping the vehicle.’"

If Jawando had his way, no stopping at red lights, no current license, no problem.

In 2023, Jawando proposed a bill that would bar the police from stopping drivers for certain violations, including licensing and registration. The Maryland Attorney General said that the bill violated state law. So Jawando kept trying, proposing a new bill, the Freedom to Leave Act, to limit police searches. This bill says that even if the driver consents to a search, the driver can leave the scene. How are officers supposed to be trained to handle that? Oh, and there would also be additional reporting requirements. 

According to The MoCo Show: The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35 issued a statement on the Freedom to Leave Act, including:

Through policy that has already been implemented, Montgomery County Police Officers go beyond the requirements of the 4th Amendment. Currently, when requesting a search of any person or vehicle, officers provide notice of a right of refusal. Legislation, such as this, has a direct correlation to the numbers of police officers in Montgomery County. This legislation and similar laws, which were previously passed by the last council, have a negative impact on retaining high quality and professional police officers.” 

Based on 2022 to 2023 figures, in Montgomery County there are approximately 1 million residents and 1,120 police officers, giving us an 892 to 1 ratio. According to Montgomery Perspective“The police department lost a net 61 sworn officers from 2022 to 2023.” “The number of police officers against whom complaints were filed dropped from 234 in 2022 to 226 in 2023. The number of written reprimands of officers dropped from 12 to 4 in the same period. The number of officers subject to other categories of discipline were in single digits for each category in each year.”

“These two reports paint a picture of a department under stress. The number of sworn officers is shrinking. Calls for service involving substance abuse, mental health and homeless people are rising. The department has had to greatly increase its use of overtime to cope with these trends, especially in Upcounty. Policymakers must consider these trends when contemplating future policy decisions concerning the police department.”

Show your support for our brave police officers by joining us at our next Back The Blue event on April 30 at 1:30pm at Montgomery County Police Department District 5, 20,000 Aircraft Drive, Germantown, MD, 20874. The Thin Blue Line will appreciate it. 

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Lori Jaffe is the Party Secretary for the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee, volunteer coordinator and Member of the Executive Board. She can be reached at [email protected]

Montgomery County Republican Party