Montgomery County

Montgomery Co. Residents Support Less Policing for Mental Health, Homelessness: Survey

The Montgomery County Police Reform Task Force says it surveyed 6,500 about how police should be involved in the community

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Many residents in Montgomery County want police to be less involved in certain issues including homelessness and responding to mental health crises, new preliminary survey results show.

The Montgomery County Police Reform Task Force conducted a survey of about 6,500 residents and presented early findings on Thursday night.

The survey asked residents how much of a role they think the Montgomery County Police Department should have in responding to various situations: Should it be a lead role, a partnership with other groups, a backup role or no involvement?

Homelessness, addiction and mental health crises were among the issues where respondents wanted the least police involvement.

About two-thirds said police shouldn’t be involved or should only be backup in cases of homelessness.

More than 40% said police shouldn’t be involved or should only be backup to help in addiction cases, mental health situations, panhandling issues, or for parking violations.

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Survey respondents felt more mixed about issues such as child abuse or exploitation, domestic violence, managing crowds and community outreach.

A plurality of people said they think child abuse and exploitation should be handled via a partnership between police and other service providers, although more than 40% still wanted police to lead.

For domestic violence situations, 48% said police should have the lead role and 40% said it should be a partnership.

The survey found the majority of people, between 72% and 90%, think the police should take a lead role in cases including homicide, driving under the influence, trespassing and violent crimes.

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The survey also took the pulse on issues of police funding that have been pushed to the forefront since mass protests over racial injustice over the summer.

While 28% of people said funding should not be taken away from police, another 72% ranked other services as a higher priority.

For those who said funding could be reallocated, respondents prioritized social services (17%), education (13%), housing (11%), fire and rescue (11%), transportation (10%) and corrections, rehabilitation and courts (10%).

The police reform task force is scheduled to have another meeting later this month.  Then, they are set to release their full recommendations for the department in January.

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