Montgomery County Council seeks clarity after report shows more than 200 complaints filed against police

Some say a report released by the Montgomery County Police Department that was supposed to make clear just how many complaints people filed against the department and why has only muddied the waters. 

By law in Montgomery County, police have to report data to the council on how many complaints have been lodged against the department and why. 

This year’s first-of-its-kind report revealed that complaints were filed against 19.8% of Montgomery County police officers last year. For perspective, that’s about 234 officers out of a force of 1,800.  

But community advocates and some council members say this police report, which is supposed to promote transparency, isn't providing clarity. 

Critics say it’s a problem that there’s no data on what disciplinary action followed the complaints against officers or what offenses were for. 

Chief Marcus Jones spoke to FOX 5 about the report. 

"First of all that’s the overall number of complaints," Jones said. "That does not mean that all of the complaints themselves were validated. We find there’s a percentage of complaints we receive each year that are unfounded."

There are other ways the council can access this police data. Montgomery County police say the Internal Affairs section of their website provides the details the council is looking for. 

The breakdown appears the be the way that the law was written. 

Sec. 35-6A(c) requires the Montgomery County police to "provide an annual report to Council by February 1 containing specified data elements as required by law. The Council must hold a public hearing on the report." 

But the law only asks for raw data — not the narratives connected to the complaint. 

Jones says his department fulfilled the requirements of the law as it is written so the council may revisit the legislation to ensure they are receiving the information they originally set out to get.

Members could also get a clearer picture of what’s behind the complaints and how they were handled by reviewing the police department’s Statistical Data Report along with the internal affairs reports.

Council President Evan Glass announced Tuesday that there will be a hearing next week when the matter may be taken up.