Our Priorities

Update: June 23, 2023

The Police Accountability Board (PAB) voted on a set of policy recommendations in it June 20, 2023 meeting. Below is a summary of the results.

PAB Recommendations - Approved 

 PAB Recommendations – Not Approved

(*) Aligned with PATF-HoCo 2023 Policy Reform Priorities

PATF-HoCo PAB Policy Recs_5-17-23.docx.pdf

Update: May 17, 2023

PATF-HoCo wrote to the PAB to endorse a number of policy recommendations to be considered by the PAB at its June 20, meeting.

PATF-HoCo Letter to the PAB 04-04-2023.pdf

Update: April 4, 2023

PATF-HoCo wrote to the PAB to request a meeting to discuss our common priorities. 

Update: May 3, 2023

The Howard County Police Accountability Board (PAB) is currently considering the adoption of several policy proposals that would greatly enhance the PAB’s effectiveness and improve police accountability in Howard County. Several of these overlap with PATF-HoCo's 2023 priorities, and PATF-HoCo fully endorses these proposals.

We expect the PAB to vote on these proposals in its June meeting.

Below is a list of the proposals under consideration and the rationale for each proposal.

PAB Policy Recs_Attach A_5-2-23.pdf

Update: March 21, 2023

These are our priorities for 2023:

I - Law Enforcement Data Sharing with the Community 

Transparency and accountability are best served when the community has access to key data related to LEA performance and community interaction demographics.

 The following is our 2023 Law Enforcement Data Sharing priority:  

a) Howard County Law Enforcement should publish an annual report and establish a public-facing web page on which it publishes key data related to law enforcement agencies performance, especially related to community interactions, including demographic and geographical breakdowns.

II - Police Accountability Board (PAB)

The formation of the Howard County PAB was an admirable first start towards comprehensive police reform.  However, the new Board as it currently exists, does not have effective investigative and subpoena tools.   In its current state, the PAB doesn’t have the authority to access “real-time” demographic police data or the ability to conduct meaningful investigations of police-related critical incidents.  In effect, the PAB’s ability to weigh in on police accountability matters has been primarily limited to producing summary reports based on limited data, that is dated.  

We have seen in the case of Tyre Nichols, transparency and accountability are critical elements in the ongoing investigation of this tragic critical incident.  The procedure of investigating critical incidents, like Mr. Nichols’ case, should not be solely subject to the actions, and or lack of action, of individual law enforcement leaders.  Rather, appropriate checks and balances should be established in policy and law.  

The following are our 2023 Police Accountability Board priorities:

a) Any member of the PAB should have the right to access and review each law enforcement agency’s books and records relating to complaints, investigations and discipline concerning officer misconduct.

b) Any member of the PAB should have the right to inspect any BWC recording that is (i) relevant to any officer-involved shooting or other use of force incident, or (ii) relevant to any encounter resulting in a civilian complaint.

c) The PAB should be authorized to conduct an investigation of police misconduct concurrently with a law enforcement agency investigating the complaint. 

d) For any BWC recording meeting the criteria in 1.b) that is subject to a request for public release under the MPIA, the Head of the relevant Law Enforcement Agency must, prior to making any claim of an applicable exception to release of the BWC Recording under the MPIA, receive written advice and consultation in writing from the Chairperson of the PAB concerning the nature and extent of the public interest relating to the question of release of the BWC Recording. Such written advice and consultation shall be provided by the Chairperson within five (5) working days of receipt of the request.

e) The PAB should establish the membership eligibility requirements for ACC membership.

III - Administrative Charging Committee (ACC)

In order for the Administrative Charging Committee (ACC) to effectively fulfill its mission, PATF-HoCo is recommending changes in the eligibility requirements of ACC appointees.  

The following are our 2023 Administrative Charging Committee priorities:

a) Include the following additional eligibility requirements for ACC Members.

Each ACC member must demonstrate one or more of the following:

I. committed interest and demonstrated active involvement in Howard County community service;

II. experience in personnel disciplinary proceedings as a manager, employee representative, mediator, or arbitrator; or

III. experience evaluating citizen complaints against a police officer.

b) Include an annual salary for the ACC Chairperson and ACC members.  This will improve the ability of the County to attract well-qualified candidates with the demanding skill sets and commitment levels required to serve effectively on the ACC. Annually, the salaries for the Chairperson and each member should be adjusted by the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers for the Baltimore/Columbia/Towson area, as published by the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, or a successor index.

IV - Body Worn Camera (BWC) Program

We are pleased that HoCo implemented a Body Worn Camera program.  However, it is important that the policies which govern the BWC program do not erode the principles of accountability and transparency.

The following is our 2023 Body Worn Camera Program priority:  

a) Reverse the Body Worn Camera Program policy directive that permits an officer who shoots or seriously injures another person or is involved in an in-custody death to review the BWC recordings related to the incident prior to completing and submitting any required reports and/or being interviewed by the appropriate investigative unit. The tragic deaths of Mr. Nichols and Mr. Floyd are prime examples of why this policy change is necessary.