So far this year, three Baltimore County police officers accused of use-of-force violations were acquitted by trial boards—the police disciplinary procedure that allows officers to challenge violations, Cassidy Jensen reports for the Baltimore Sun. But the outcomes of these boards could soon shift in another direction when civilians join a new disciplinary committee established by police reform laws passed two years ago.
What are the details of the new committee?
Starting July 1, civilians will join the trial boards and a new civilian committee will begin assessing the police department’s internal investigations into officers—including reviewing body camera footage— to decide whether they should be charged and to recommend discipline based on a new statewide matrix. The committee—which will consist of two people appointed by the county executive, two by the Police Accountability Board, and another member of that board— will outline its findings and any disciplinary actions in a written opinion.
The trial boards, which currently sits three police officers, will include an active or retired judge appointed by the county executive, a community member appointed by the Police Accountability Board, and one police officer with equal rank to the accused.
Anything else I should know?
Though the changes were implemented to allow residents to have more say in police disciplinary processes, Pete Fitzpatrick, Baltimore County’s District 1 Police Accountability Board member, said he’s not sure whether that will translate to more officers found guilty of violating use-of-force policies.
“Whether more cases are sustained or not will depend really on the validity of the case and whether the citizens appointed to this board feel differently. We’ll see,” Fitzpatrick said. “I don’t think our metric for accountability should be more cases sustained, it should be better policing.”
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