Marcus Jones and Dr. Pollard Have a Conversation About Police in Maryland


Gabriela Tomasi

The deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of law enforcement, sparked social unrest throughout the nation earlier this year. In Montgomery County, the discussion of how police can better its relationship with the community predominates. “Some communities in Montgomery County need us the most but trust us the least,” said Montgomery County Chief Of Police Marcus Jones. He added that building relationships with the community has been “a huge undertaking for [his] police department.”

As new cases of police brutality happen every day, black parents feel obligated to have “the talk” about systemic racism with their children. “How do I counsel [my son] about his interactions with police,” said Montgomery College President Dr. Pollard. “I want him to have a profound appreciation for people who have said they will protect and serve him. At the same time, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking about how I need him to be prepared,” she added. The Chief of Police responded that the best advice he gave his son was to “do what the officer is asking you to do, even if you think that the officer is outside the realm of their authority.”

This conversation about police in Maryland took place on Oct.21, and it was part of the 2020-2021 Presidential Dialogues Series, which has the goal of discussing how we can build racial justice in a multicultural society.  In this virtual event, the Chief of Police Marcus Jones addressed audience questions that were selected beforehand and included topics such as qualified immunity, marijuana charges, police training, and defunding the police. Jones and Dr. Pollard also discussed the Trust and Transparency Act, civilian oversight of law enforcement, the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights, and mental health crisis intervention.

When answering an audience question about defunding the police, Jones declared that “83 percent of our budget goes to personnel cost and benefits to the employers and 17 percent goes to the operational cost of our department.” According to the Montgomery County Chief of Police, “any department that’s a well-trained department is an excellent police department,” he added, “when you divest in training, then I think the community will suffer as a result of that.”

During the conversation, Jones also mentioned the efforts done by his department to educate officers about history and culture. Before COVID, these activities included trips to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The Chief of Police emphasized the importance of understanding history and how the police institution was part of those events, so they don’t happen again.

The event ended with a message of hope from Marcus Jones, in which he praised Montgomery County and its diversity. Jones mentioned that the department is not perfect and that there is an “opportunity to bring greater greatness.” The Chief of Police also emphasized that he is happy to see the growth of diversity in the profession, especially of women.

Interested members of the community can watch the live stream on Montgomery College’s YouTube account.