MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich proposed plans to plans to eliminate the school resource officer program and reorganize the Montgomery County Police Department during Monday’s $6 billion budget proposal presentation.
The new budget proposal and policy discussion comes after months of contention, debate, and legislation surrounding the future of police in Montgomery County Public Schools.
In the latest budget proposal, 29 positions are being eliminated across MCPD. Of those positions eliminated, 25 of them are sworn officer positions. Several of those are vacant school resource officer positions that would go unfilled.
Current school resource officers would still stay on with MCPD by filling other vacant positions and reorganizing the department.
The county executive says Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones was on board with a plan to take police out of school buildings, and move them into school community clusters.
“If there’s an issue, if there’s a crisis that requires a police response, they will be able to respond. We want to move toward bringing more appropriate responses to situations into the schools,” said Elrich.
To Elrich, a former teacher, a more appropriate response means bringing social workers or other specialists into schools instead.
“We’ve made the police our response to social problems: drug abuse, alcoholism, mental health issues. These people need to be treated by the right resources from the right departments. People need to get help,” said Elrich.
He says the proposed budget adds funding for six mobile crisis response teams. Currently, the county has one mobile crisis response team.
The department is still seeing a budget increase of about $1.6 million, even with the elimination of several SRO positions. The total proposed budget for the department tops $283 million.
As for other highlights from the proposed budget presentation, budget requests from MCPS and Montgomery College were fully funded.
As for economic development in Montgomery County, Elrich highlighted the importance of ongoing efforts to fund the creation of a local talent pipeline for jobs in the life sciences and computing technologies sectors.
Montgomery County expects its reserves to be up 9.6% by the end of FY22, coming off of a dip during the pandemic response, with millions spent on masks and other personal protective equipment.