ROCKVILLE – In the wake of Freddie Gray’s death, Montgomery County had a presence of about 50 officers at all times in Baltimore to assist when riots sprang from peaceful protests. But Council President George Leventhal (D-At large) said it is hard to know how Montgomery County would react if such a death occurred here.
“I don’t know that any of us can identify ahead of time how you’re going to respond if a tragic incident occurs. I hope that our public would remain calm, and I think it’s up to all of us as elected officials to state that we believe that is the police’s responsibility to provide protection and be responsive to every resident regardless of background, race or language spoken,” said Leventhal.
Leventhal said he scheduled a private meeting with Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger on May 6 to discuss lessons learned from Baltimore. The county and MCPD will also host a public conversation on June 9 about community relations with the police, according to Leventhal.
Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy would not comment on anything relating to the case in Baltimore. County Executive spokesperson Patrick Lacefield did not respond to requests for comment.
MCPD spokesperson Capt. Paul Starks said a death in police custody would be investigated by the Major Crimes Division.
“If somebody dies while they happen to be in police custody, there will be an investigation completed by the Major Crimes Division just as there is for any unintended death in Montgomery County,” he said.
Starks also said the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore would perform an autopsy in that case and the next steps would depend a lot on the results of the autopsy.
If someone alleged to have an injury as a result of police use of force, then the Internal Affairs Division would conduct an investigation, according to Starks.
MCPD’s use-of-force policy also discusses the procedures for when to use force and how to report it.
As a result of the use of force or otherwise, police officers must get medical assistance to those who ask for it or appear injured, have trouble breathing, become unresponsive or shows signs of losing consciousness.
Officers also have the responsibility to report use of force and discharging their firearms, according to the policy, in the following circumstances: any time force is used to counteract a physical struggle, when use of force results in injury to an individual, when someone alleges use of force caused an injury, when force is applied using a protective instrument, when a firearm is discharged other than in target practice, when a police dog injures someone and any time an officer is assaulted.
Information about use of force also goes to the Use of Force and Weapons Review Committee as part of MCPD. The committee “will review all in custody deaths and intentional discharge of firearms by department personnel and report the results of this review, along with any conclusions or recommendations, to the Chief of Police, as requested,” according to the policy.
The Use of Force and Weapons Review Committee meets three times a year and includes at least two executive officers from the Patrol Services Bureau, one executive officer from the Investigative Services Bureau, one executive officer from Internal Affairs, and the respective directors of the Policy and Planning Division and Training and Education Division.