Officers in Montgomery County, Maryland, have not too long ago proposed a program to reintroduce armed cops in colleges after college students and the neighborhood demanded their removing throughout the eruption of worldwide protests following the police homicide of George Floyd in 2020.
Many Montgomery County college students joined protests in opposition to police brutality and racism with a selected focus was on native arrest charges in county colleges, which disproportionately happen in colleges in working class neighborhoods. College students demanded the removing of armed cops, euphemistically named Pupil Useful resource Officers (SRO), from Montgomery County Public Colleges. Democratic County Govt Marc Elrich responded by rescinding funding for the SRO program within the fall of 2021 when college students returned to in-person courses.
Elrich applied what was known as a “Group Engagement Officer” program by which cops patrolled sure areas round colleges and solely responded to incidents if urgently wanted. This program was an try at complying with Maryland legislation requiring that each one colleges have “enough legislation enforcement protection,” whereas assuaging scholar and neighborhood issues about having police in class buildings.
Montgomery County, which incorporates the northern suburbs of Washington D.C., is among the 20 richest counties in america by median earnings. The county is dwelling not solely to the Nationwide Institutes of Well being and Walter Reed Medical Heart but additionally a number of different federal companies and company headquarters of protection contractors like Lockheed Martin.
The county authorities is firmly within the management of the Democratic Get together, with six of seven county executives having been Democrats for the reason that creation of the workplace in 1970 and with a county council presently composed completely of Democrats.
The Washington Submit reported the existence of a privately drafted settlement between the county college system and the Montgomery County Police Division to carry the armed officers again inside college buildings. Based mostly on a evaluate of the settlement, which has not been made public, the Submit stated the deal could possibly be signed this week.
In accordance with the Submit, county leaders and members of the county council have obtained their very own copies of the draft settlement. Nevertheless, discussions have taken place completely behind the backs of the neighborhood, together with teams that beforehand pushed for the removing of the college police.
Furthermore, below the draft settlement, the presence of armed officers wouldn’t solely be commonplace in public excessive colleges, because it was previous to the 2021 resolution to scrap the SRO program, however officers could be positioned in each center and elementary colleges as nicely.
“We are actually going to have officers who’re going to be extra seen,” stated Montgomery Police Chief Marcus Jones to WJLA. “They are going to be seen across the high-volume instances our college students will probably be strolling on campus, firstly of faculty, round lunchtime and on the finish of faculty,” Jones added. As well as, the draft settlement features a proposal for officers to have their very own “personal designated area” inside colleges even when they don’t seem to be “completely stationed” there. It additionally permits college directors to name the officers immediately.
Final 12 months, a process pressure shaped by the county government concluded that there was no have to station cops inside college buildings. Moreover, it advisable in opposition to college directors having direct line of contacts with Group Engagement Officers that changed SROs. Colleges couldn’t name them immediately to reply to incidents however needed to name emergency providers.
Richard Montgomery Excessive College senior Kyson Taylor, a scholar activist, informed the Submit that it was “wildly inappropriate” that the choice had been organized in closed-door negotiations. Taylor and different college students have been within the midst of organizing protests in opposition to a proposal from Interim Superintendent Monifa McKnight made in February to carry police again into college buildings. College students have organized protests in opposition to the brand new proposal. Montgomery Group Media (MCM) reported that college students held vigils and rallies in February and March to denounce the plan.
Danielle Blocker, the president of Youth Individuals for Progress, known as the county management hypocritical, including, “For them to go from saying final 12 months that this [document] is one thing that college students and lecturers and directors and neighborhood teams ought to have eyes on to saying now that they’re positive with no scholar enter—it’s hanging. How do you even start to justify this course of as official?”
Montgomery County Public Colleges (MCPS) spokesperson Chris Cram maintained that the draft was not alleged to turn into public information till after it had been signed.
Elrich’s spokesperson, Scott Peterson, informed the Submit, “MCPS has been clear that they want further flexibility within the quick time period.” Peterson added that Elrich would have made the draft doc public had he been in a position to, however he “can not make such a choice alone.”
Whereas the about-face is inflicting outrage amongst college students, educators and oldsters, it’s related to the authoritarian flip which each the Democratic and Republican events have embraced throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Montgomery County, college students have held massive protests in latest months in opposition to the unsafe reopening of colleges throughout the pandemic. Considerably, college students reported MCPS’s use of safety officers to observe over and warehouse college students throughout college hours.
As well as, the Democrats specifically have pivoted towards a deal with law-and-order insurance policies and combating the so-called “wave” of shootings and different violent crimes which has risen in the midst of the pandemic. This was typified by feedback given by Democratic President Biden at his State of the Union tackle in March. “We must always all agree: The reply is to not defund the police. It’s to fund the police,” he stated.
Montgomery County’s Democratic Council President Gabe Albornoz underscored how the affect of the pandemic on youth was getting used to justify the rise police presence in colleges. At a press convention on March 28, Albornoz stated, “A number of issues have modified. … [S]ince the pandemic we’ve discovered in regards to the actually vital challenges going through our youth within the space of behavioral well being and in social and emotional studying,” he declared.
This anti-democratic episode once more exhibits the right-wing character of the Democratic Get together even in a liberal stronghold like Montgomery County, Maryland.