Marcus Jones to be next director of security for Montgomery schools

Marcus Jones to be next director of security for Montgomery schools

Montgomery County Board of Education Tuesday unanimously named Marcus Jones, the county retiree. police chief, as the new chief of security and compliance for Maryland’s largest school system.

Also Tuesday, the board formally approved the hiring of Thomas Taylor as the district’s new superintendent. Taylor, whose pending appointment was announced last week, said in a June 17 press conference announcing his selection that school safety would be one of his priorities.

Montgomery County Public Schools does not have traditional school resource officers, but officers can enter schools at designated work stations. In recent years, parents and students have expressed concerns about possible violence, vaping, fentanyl-related overdoses and false bomb threats.

As part of his new role, Jones will be responsible for developing security plans for the district, which has more than 160,000 students enrolled. He is expected to act as a liaison between the school system and emergency personnel, such as police and firefighters. Most recently, the position was held by Michelle Ezeofor-Andrews, who was hired in October to fill the position in an acting capacity, according to the school system’s website.

Jones to retire as police chief in July after working for he Montgomery County strength for almost 40 years. Originally from South Boston, Virginia, he joined the force in 1985 and worked as a patrolman and detective before becoming a sergeant in 2000. He rose through the ranks and then served as a drug commander, leading the major crimes division and commanding the Silver Spring division of the department. In 2018 he rose to the rank of deputy chief, overseeing all investigation divisions.

After Montgomery Police Chief J. Thomas Manger retired In 2019, Jones served as interim chief for a time. As County Executive Marc Elrich (D) was looking for Manger’s permanent replacement, he passed over Jones in favor of three candidates who didn’t work out. Elrich, who wanted to hire an outside candidate to lead the force, eventually turned to Jones, who later became chief. in 2019.

While overseeing a staff of about 1,300 sworn officers and 650 support staff, Jones led a department confronting the rise of ghost guns in schools, policing during a pandemic and rebuilding public trust amid national cries for more police reforms after the murder. of George Floyd in 2020 by officers in Minneapolis.

Jones also led the department as it reworked its relationship with the county’s public school system. In 2021, Elrich decided to end the county’s school resource officer program amid nationwide protests against police misconduct and racial profiling. Elrich transformed it into a community engagement officer program, which originally removed police from inside high schools to patrol the areas around the schools.

After a 2022 shooting at Magruder High School that hospitalized a student, the school system and police department worked on a memorandum of understanding to have police return to schools at designated duty stations. The agreement was signed by Jones and other county officials. Several student activists rejected the decision, as the agreement was negotiated privately without public participation.

The school system has also been the target of false bomb threats that have disrupted the school day. Seven of these threats, called “hits,” were attributed by police to a 12-year-old boy in October. Most recently, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School was the target of a swatting threat that sent in SWAT teams and locked down the school. for hours in May.

Montgomery County schools have also revamped safety protocols in recent years. Some high schools require ID checks to enter the building. The school system also used money it received from a legal settlement with Juul to purchase vaping detectors.

Lynh Bui contributed to this report.