The next question becomes, who or what replaces patrol cops?
Montgomery County elected officials are seeking alternatives to sworn officers for traffic stops in response to recent reports of racial disparities.
The county’s Legislative Oversight Office released a report in July that reveals that Black drivers accounted for 32 percent of all Montgomery County Police Department traffic stops in 2018 despite only making up 18 percent of the local population. Furthermore, an analysis of 2019 traffic stop data revealed that 27 percent of Black adults experienced a traffic stop compared to 14–17 percent of White and Latinx adults and 7 percent of Asian adults.
Black men were also three times more likely than White men to receive a traffic citation. Disparities were particularly high in District 7, which includes Bethesda, Glen Echo, and Somerset; District 4, which covers Rockville; and District 13, which covers Silver Spring and Wheaton-Glenmont.
"I really am concerned about traffic stops and bias in policing," Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer told NBC4 Washington.
Riemer has proposed switching traffic enforcement to another county agency, potentially the Department of Transportation, in a similar move to what’s been approved in Berkeley, California. The use of traffic cameras has also been floated as another alternative option.
The legality of the move may be called into question because Maryland state law does not allow anyone other than police officers to make traffic stops. Nonetheless, the idea is gaining steam from county elected officials, including Councilmember-at-large Will Jawando, who is hosting a policing town hall Thursday night to discuss the idea and other traffic stop alternatives.
The proposal comes amid differing proposals on the long-term makeup of Montgomery County Council. A ballot measure is up for vote this November. Question D would eliminate the county’s four at-large seats in favor of nine regional council districts. County Council approved a resolution in August to create its own ballot initiative, Question C, which would maintain the four at-large seats and add two new district seats.
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