Baltimore County Residents Seek Transparency in the Establishment of a Police Accountability Board
County Executive Olszewski -
After years of local advocates pushing for police reform and the subsequent public outcry after the murder of George Floyd and several local police misconduct cases in Baltimore County, the Maryland General Assembly passed the Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 [HB 670], which mandates a number of programs and procedures designed to improve transparency and accountability for police misconduct in Maryland. This act requires every County to establish a Police Accountability Board (PAB), an Administrative Charging Committee, and a Trial Board to oversee policing discipline.
Among that law’s impactful reforms is a requirement that every county establish a Police Accountability Board (PAB) to receive public complaints of police misconduct, appoint residents to the trial board and administrative charging committees, and make policy recommendations to improve police accountability.
The following are needed to ensure real police accountability in Baltimore County: 1) participation on the PAB should be open to all Baltimore County residents who are eligible to vote, 2) the board makeup should reflect the diversity of the county, including members from overpoliced communities, 3) members should be compensated for their service and the board should be adequately funded, with independent counsel available to them, and 4) people with a conflict of interest should not be able to serve.
Local advocacy organizations have made several attempts over the past 5 months to request information from the County Executive, the Equitable Policing Workgroup, and Council Representatives for clarity on our local PAB implementation process. Despite these attempts, there has been no response and county representatives have not released any information about PAB plans. This seems to be in line with worrying trends we have seen in other counties, such as Prince George’s, where no opportunity for public input or transparency has been provided, thus further undermining public trust and the whole point of the statewide police accountability legislation.
While Baltimore County’s Memorandum of Understanding with the Fraternal Order of Police does not expire until July 2023, that does not excuse Baltimore County from fully complying with the state-mandated law. The PAB must meet, accept and report on misconduct complaints, and make policy recommendations starting in July 2022. We urge the County Executive to publicly announce the timeline for the legislation, include the community in the planning process, and implement PAB recommendations from communities most impacted by over-policing in Baltimore County.
American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland
Baltimore County Progressive Democrats Club
Common Cause Maryland
Communist Party of the USA, Baltimore Club
Jews United for Justice Baltimore
League of Women Voters of Baltimore County
SURJ Baltimore and Howard County