It’s budget season in Montgomery County! This is an opportunity to envision a Just Recovery for our County — a recovery that provides dei machsoro, resources sufficient for each person’s needs, and also answers the call to reimagine how we define and fund public safety for our County.
Along with with our partners in the Montgomery County Defund Policing & Invest in Communities Coalition, Silver Spring Justice Coalition, and the Montgomery County Racial Equity (MORE) Network, JUFJ has the following budget priorities for Fiscal Year 2022:
1. Fund a Licensed, Culturally Competent Clinical Social Workers in Every MCPS High School
Following the lead of the student organizers and our partners who have been calling for police free schools, we’re asking the County Council to add $2.6 million to the budget to fund a culturally competent licensed clinical social worker at each MCPS high school.
2. Fund Emergency and Long-Term Rental Assistance
As of this week, County courts are open and 7,000 Montgomery County households are at immediate risk of eviction. We call on County leadership to fund emergency rental relief, plus long term rental assistance, to prevent thousands of families from becoming homeless.
3. Fund More Mental Health Crisis Response Teams
In the last few months, police officers killed Kwamena Ocran and Kevin Costlow, two beloved community members in clear mental health crises. When mental health professionals respond to mental health crises, our residents get help without criminalization. The County Council and County Executive have increased funding to create more mobile health response teams and we urge the Council to add to that funding to create enough teams for full 24/7 coverage across the entire County.
4. Automate Traffic Enforcement and Decrease MCPD’s Traffic Budget
Black and Latinx drivers in Montgomery County are heavily racially profiled. Removing traffic enforcement from police responsibilities is a critical first step to reducing racial profiling on the roads. The County Executive’s proposed budget nearly doubles the funds for automated traffic enforcement, which decreases the need for traffic enforcement officers. We are asking the Council to correspondingly decrease the funding for traffic police and move those funds to other critical areas of need.
5. Ensure No New Funding for MCPD, Including for Training and Data Collection
The Council is considering important legislation to require more robust data collection by the police department (Bill 45-20), and we are urging the Council to ensure that no new funds are added to the police budget to fund the new data requirements. We also are urging the County not to invest additional funds into training — as laid out in the Reimagining Public Safety Taskforce’s budget working group report, training does not decrease use of force incidents. The most effective way to decrease police brutality is to decrease the number of interactions between police officers and the public.
Interested in learning more about the Montgomery County budget? Click here to contact Devorah about joining JUFJ’s budget working group.