Update: January 3, 2022 Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 3, 2022
Howard County Citizens Still Urging Greater Transparency in the Establishment of a Police Accountability Board
January 4 Vote by Howard County Council Threatens to Implement Flawed Bill
That Has Not Addressed Community Concerns about Lack of Transparency and Accountability in Policing in Our County
[Howard County, MD] The Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 requires the establishment of a Police Accountability Board in Howard County which is required, amongst other things, to “work with Law Enforcement Agencies and County Government to improve matters of policing.” And yet, the Ball Administration’s Bill no 83-2021 to establish the Police Accountability Board (which is currently scheduled for a County Council vote on Tuesday January 4, 2022) falls far short of the laudable goal of the MPAA and is fatally flawed - in many respects Dr. Ball’s Bill will actually do damage to the cause of police accountability in our county.
County leadership must address the fatal flaws in Dr. Ball’s bill NOW so that Howard County can establish an effective Police Accountability Board and seize the opportunity to be a leader in our state and country in representing the public interest and working towards racial equity and justice in policing in Howard County.
The Police Accountability Task Force of Howard County (PATF-HoCo) urgently calls on each County Council member to:
The Ball Administration would require each PAB Board member to sign a confidentiality agreement. This is totally unacceptable as it would effectively prevent the PAB from communicating with the public on matters of police misconduct. This is blatantly inconsistent with the PAB’s role of driving greater transparency and accountability into policing in Howard County.
The Ball Administration’s Bill is lacking any provisions that would give the PAB access to relevant law enforcement records or police body-worn camera recordings. Without such a right of access, the PAB is essentially powerless to provide any timely review of serious incidents of police misconduct and provide the necessary oversight over officer misconduct and police accountability for the Howard County community.
The Ball Administration’s Bill would authorize the selection of individual Board members who are former career law enforcement or county administration employees. This must be rejected. It is critically important that membership be reflective of the Howard County community it serves, not potentially partisan agencies.
The PAB’s timely access to review police-body worn camera recordings will be particularly important if a Critical Incident occurs within our County. Yet the proposed Bill and amendments are silent on this vital subject. The County Council should table the Bill to allow the introduction of a new amendment providing the PAB with the authority to review body-worn camera recordings expeditiously after any such Critical Incident.