NPR’s Michel Martin talks with Councilman Craig Rice and college student Julia Angel about community educational institutions in Montgomery County, Md., opening devoid of police officers for the to start with time in 19 decades.
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
We’re heading to remain in back again-to-college mode a little bit longer and talk to two individuals in Maryland who served to make a substantial improve in the major college technique in the point out. Montgomery County is just north of Washington, D.C. This yr, the community colleges in Montgomery County are running without having university useful resource officers on campus for the initial time in almost 20 many years. You could remember that school resource officers, or SROs, have been a flashpoint in the country’s much larger discussion about policing. In the previous, lots of people – political leaders, university administrators, mom and dad – pushed for these officers, thinking it would make the schools safer for everyone. But the thinking among the numerous has improved, and critics are now arguing that having armed law enforcement officers in the halls of higher universities and middle faculties is needless and intimidating, particularly for college students of coloration.
Very last 12 months, student activists in Montgomery County pressured lawmakers to rethink the SRO model of policing their colleges, and it labored. I am in this article with two friends who are section of that method. Julia Angel is a senior at Richard Montgomery Significant University and a co-founder of the university student group MoCo Towards Brutality. Julia, welcome. Many thanks for signing up for us.
JULIA ANGEL: Thank you for having me.
MARTIN: And Craig Rice is a Montgomery County councilmember. He served to develop the SRO product for Maryland educational facilities two a long time in the past, but he has because modified his thoughts and has been not too long ago associated in generating tips for changing armed officers in school. Councilman Rice, welcome to you as perfectly. Thank you for joining us.
CRAIG RICE: Thank you so much for acquiring me. Recognize it.
MARTIN: So, Julia, permit me start with you. You are a senior. Congrats.
ANGEL: Thank you.
MARTIN: And as we stated, school source officers have been a fixture in Montgomery County General public Schools for practically 20 yrs. So that would be – correct – your total university career, proper? So…
MARTIN: So what manufactured you and the other pupil groups who pushed for this change want to see one thing distinct? Is there a thing distinct you could stage to that built you say this is what has to take place?
ANGEL: I think a great deal of us received included in this operate to defund in policing and reinvest in communities at a time when a good deal of men and women were truly pissed off and offended with what we were seeing on national information with the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. And I was talking with a ton of other pupils and lecturers and younger men and women in the community who experienced really negative encounters with SROs and with other police in Montgomery County, and we genuinely began to dig deeper into a large amount of the knowledge that was exhibiting the disproportionate arrest charges of Black and Latinx pupils in Montgomery County. And we realized that this application genuinely isn’t efficient, and it is really executing so considerably hurt, particularly to communities of coloration and to disabled communities and LGBTQ-in addition communities. And that was – this was one thing that needed to adjust.
MARTIN: So, Councilman Rice, I’m happy we have a opportunity to communicate to you mainly because, as I pointed out, you ended up a point out delegate in the ’90s, when you assisted to develop the college useful resource officer method. So what altered your head? Because I know that you have been a strong advocate of this software for several years…
MARTIN: …Even immediately after people today commenced to complain about it. What improved your intellect?
RICE: We listened. We listened to students like Julia who reported, appear, I am remaining negatively impacted by possessing this officer mainly because the stories that I see, though I may possibly not have independently knowledgeable a faculty source officer performing a little something to me, all I see on Television set and all I hear from other college students are scenarios in which these matters are happening and these damaging stories about police officers and their interactions with principally people today of color, principally young, were being matters that were large on our students’ minds. And so what we have to do as elected leaders is recognize that although we are leaning with the best intentions, what we also want to do is choose a step back again and hear when our young children are telling us that, hey, this is not anything which is functioning for us correct now for the reason that we are in a unique location, we are in a diverse area, and we will not feel as even though this is nevertheless a system which is holding us safe.
MARTIN: So, Julia, I am asking yourself if there are any students who claimed, you know what? This makes me sense unsafe. I experience like there need to be any individual, a police presence in the universities. And what did you say to them?
ANGEL: You know, doing away with an armed police officer from currently being on campus is not eradicating university protection in any way. We nonetheless have stability teams that are there to hold us protected. And, I indicate, information has shown that university useful resource officers and law enforcement in educational institutions typically are largely ineffective at protecting against gun violence or gang recruitment on campuses. So I believe which is 1 of the factors that we have been seeking to perform with other people to have those open conversations and definitely communicate about imagining faculty security without policing.
MARTIN: I would like to know – a phrase that we have read a lot over this 12 months is defund the police, and this has come to be variety of a scorching-button political difficulty. Following doing work on this concern alongside one another, the pupils collectively with the elected older people, I am just intrigued in whether you feel this is a handy phrase. Is this a practical way to believe about this, to discuss about this? Julia, possibly I’ll commence with you. Do you think defund the law enforcement is a valuable way to discuss about this?
ANGEL: Properly, I do believe that, you know, what part of what our coalition is functioning towards is defunding the law enforcement but also reinvesting in communities. And I think that 2nd part is what gets disregarded a whole lot of the periods since what we are calling for and what I assume all of us want is to make our communities safer and additional equitable for every single one person. And so that’s why we are actually pushing towards applying a whole lot of the funding that may have earlier long gone into policing and what we look at as criminalization to psychological wellness help products and services, other wraparound services that assistance the group in extra proactive methods. And so I imagine that, you know, defunding the law enforcement is aspect of that for a whole lot of men and women. It truly is aspect of that eyesight. But what’s similarly if not additional critical is the reinvesting in our communities component.
MARTIN: Councilmember, right before I enable you go, I want to listen to from you on that problem, also. What is actually your acquire on defund the law enforcement? Is this a beneficial way to think about this, centered on your encounter, or what do you imagine?
RICE: When it will come to the defund the law enforcement piece, I’m in fact a very little little bit a lot more adamant in terms of not liking that terminology, and allow me notify you why. All people, and in particular our people of coloration, specifically our persons who are in decrease socioeconomic position in a great deal of our neighborhoods are entitled to safety. And so it shouldn’t be that just in our white, affluent communities, that they’re afforded law enforcement security and in our communities of color that we say, no, we’re not going to have folks there. We have to revamp. We have to have police reform and reimagining. We have to hold police accountable. And we also have to make sure they are operating for us. Everyone who will work hard each and every solitary day and places their tax pounds into Montgomery County’s coffers should have to have a pressure that continues to retain them protected and will not abuse them. We’ve obtained to take care of that. I are not able to just throw it absent and say, you know what, we’re just going to give up on that element. No. We have to make absolutely sure that it functions for all people.
MARTIN: That is Montgomery County Councilmember Craig Rice. We also spoke with Julia Angel. She’s a higher university senior and co-founder of MoCo Against Brutality, a single of the pupil groups that properly lobbied lawmakers, like Councilmember Rice, to clear away police officers from community educational institutions in Montgomery County starting this year. Thank you both of those so a lot for speaking with us. You know, I do hope we are going to communicate yet again. I would enjoy to verify in at the conclusion of the faculty yr and see how items have proceeded.
RICE: Definitely – would enjoy it.
ANGEL: Yeah. Thank you.
RICE: Julia, thank you so significantly.
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