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  • Writer's pictureCenter for Local Policy Analysis (CLPA)

Understanding MoCo Council's Bill 2-24, the "Freedom to Leave Act"

In recent years, discussions around policing practices have gained significant traction, particularly concerning traffic stops and the disproportionate impact on marginalized communities. In response to these concerns, the Montgomery County Council has introduced Bill 2-24, also known as the "Freedom to Leave Act," which had a public hearing this week. This legislation aims to address issues surrounding consent searches during traffic stops and improve data collection practices to foster transparency and accountability within law enforcement.

What is Bill 2-24?

Spearheaded by Councilmember Jawando, Bill 2-24 seeks to enact several critical reforms in policing procedures during traffic stops:

  1. Prohibition of Consent Searches: The bill prohibits police officers from requesting consent to search a motor vehicle or person during a traffic stop. This measure aims to prevent situations where individuals feel compelled to consent to searches, often leading to violations of their rights.

  2. Time Limitations on Stops: Officers are barred from unnecessarily prolonging traffic stops beyond addressing the initial violation. This provision aims to prevent arbitrary extensions of stops and ensure that encounters with law enforcement are conducted efficiently and fairly.

  3. Comprehensive Data Collection: The bill mandates detailed data collection during each traffic stop, including the number of officers present, the duration of the stop, and any actions taken such as searches or use of force. By collecting and analyzing this data, policymakers can identify patterns of bias or discrimination and take appropriate corrective measures.

  4. Transparency and Accountability: Under the proposed legislation, the Chief of Police is required to analyze and report on traffic stop data, including any trends or disparities observed. Additionally, the bill mandates the disclosure of complaints related to inappropriate conduct during traffic stops, promoting accountability within law enforcement agencies.

Why Does it Matter?

Bill 2-24 aims to address systemic disparities and rebuild trust between law enforcement and marginalized communities by prohibiting consent searches and imposing stricter guidelines on traffic stops. Moreover, the enhanced data collection and reporting requirements intend to provide valuable insights into police practices, empowering policymakers and advocates to advocate for meaningful reforms.

Next Steps

If enacted, Bill 2-24 would represent a significant step towards reforming policing practices and may promote further transparency and accountability within law enforcement. The legislation seeks to mitigate disparities and foster trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve by addressing issues surrounding consent searches and enhancing data collection efforts. With the "Freedom to Leave Act" having a public hearing, it will now be sent to the Public Safety Committee for a committee work session where there will most likely be more opportunity for the public to weigh in.

Bill text of Bill 2-24 the "Freedom to Leave Act"



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