ROCKVILLE – Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger said County police have about 500,000 contacts with the public every year, and each one has the potential to go awry.
“What I tell my cops is that every single one of those contacts can either contribute and build trust, or it can damage trust,” Manger said.
Last week Manger and Montgomery College President DeRionne Pollard sat down for a discussion at Montgomery College’s Rockville campus to discuss relations between police and the community. Manger talked about the struggles to build trust with the community and the potential for unrest in the County.
“Ferguson can happen anywhere, you have to pay attention to the relationship that the police department has with the community,” Manger said.
There have unfortunately been many instances of police shootings in recent years, some of which have led to civil suits against the police. One example of how Maryland law addresses such cases is a recent unreported opinion from Maryland’s intermediate appellate Court called William Torbit, Sr. v. Baltimore City Police Department.
The Court’s opinion indicates that Baltimore City police officers were called to the scene of a nightclub, where fights had broken out inside. The police Major decided to close the club, and a fight then broke out in the parking lot. A man wearing dark clothing was knocked to the ground, then pulled a weapon and began shooting at a group of people. Four officers fired their weapons, killing the man in dark clothing and one other persons and wounding two others. It later turned out that the man in dark clothing was a plainclothes police officer.
Sometimes life’s challenges are too vast to be resolved by a single discussion.
That sentiment moved the Montgomery County Black Ministers Conference to invite the community to prayer at Good Hope Union United Methodist Church in Silver Spring and Mt. Calvary in Rockville July 20.
The recent killings of African-American males and police in Louisiana, Minnesota and Dallas, drove citizens across the nation, including the Black Ministers Council, to dig deeper for solutions.
“This was an opportunity for members of the faith community lead by pastors (and) churches in the Baltimore-Washington area to mourn and join together to disavow violence against police officers and police brutality against communities of color,” said Elwood Gray, president of the Black Ministers Conference.
Philando Castile of Minnesota had a permit to carry a gun, was pulled over by police for a routine traffic stop, advised the police officer of the fact that he had a firearm and a permit to carry it, obeyed all orders given him by the police officer and was in the process of retrieving his driver's license and registration when he was shot and killed by that police officer. From the video taken, the police officer seemed to be in such a panic one has to wonder why he chose law enforcement as a career.
Where is your outrage, NRA, about Philando's Second Amendment right to carry a firearm? Where is your outrage, NRA, about his being deprived of his right to carry that firearm and that he lost his life because he carried that firearm? Could the fact that Philando Castile was black have anything to do with you not being “up in arms” about his gun rights?
The reputation of police officers in many parts of the country is currently a matter of some controversy, with a number of reported cases of alleged police shootings that have been questioned or have even led to criminal charges. That being said, Maryland law governs questions that prospective jurors must be asked when a police officer is to testify for the State in a criminal trial. This is illustrated by a recent case from Maryland’s intermediate appellate Court called Jovan Brice v. State.