Both address issues such as ‘Black Lives Matter,’ ‘Defund the Police.’
Frederick, Md (KM) The two finalists for the job of Frederick City Police Chief met with the public during a virtual community forum Tuesday night.
Jason Lando is a commander with the Bureau of Police in Pittsburgh. If he’s chosen for the job of Chief, he says he will “create a chief’s advisory board. That would be very similar to the commander’s cabinet that I created Pittsburgh,” he said. “Really, to have a board of community members, trusted community leaders, faith leaders, and school officials to help guide in us in some of the initiatives and programs that we roll out in Frederick.”
Cleveland Spruill is the Chief of the Athens–Clarke County Police Department in Georgia. He says he will push for more community engagement if he’s selected. “We’re going to want to continue to have an officer assigned to and engage the LGBTQ community through the Frederick Center. And liaison with the folks with the Downtown Frederick Partnership. Certainly, we’re going to want to be in our schools. And we’re going to liaison with all the other government agencies and we’re going to have a relationship and partnership with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies,” he says.
The City of Frederick began its search for a new Police Chief after Chief Ed Hargis retired in February, 2020.
The two candidates also addressed the issue of “Black Lives Matter” and “Blue Lives Matter. “Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter. And we all matter. It’s a just a matter of what are we going to do about it, and when are going to begin fix these ills that have been going on for so long,” said Spruill, who is African-American.
Lando, who is White, also discussed the issue. “Both of these movements were born out of that frustration that people’s voices weren’t being heard, and they were being marginalized,” he said. “What I don’t like to see is that it’s come down to almost a decision where you have to pick between one or the other.”
Last year, demonstrators and some elected officials were calling for “defunding the police” following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officers. Lando said the original meaning of “defund the police” called for more resources to deal with issues people are facing in their lives that don’t have anything to do with law enforcement. “While some of our officers are phenomenal at de-escalating situations, I do think that someone who has a masters’ degree or doctorate in that field—in the mental health field or the chemical dependency field–I think having them out in the street and assessing that person, I think that will go a long way,” he said.
Spruill said his goal is to steer people with mental health issues, substance abuse and homelessness to the services they need before law enforcement has to intervene. “We know all of those things are not crimes. But if they’re left unchecked, they will inevitably lead to those individuals’ involvement with the criminal justice system,” he said.
Mayor Michael O’Connor urged residents to provide their feedback on the forum by Thursday. They can go on line to frederickmd.gov\chief search. He will decide which one of these two finalists will be hired, and submit that choice to the Board of Aldermen for a vote.
By Kevin McManus