Press Releases


Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 11, 2022

Police Accountability Task Force of Howard County

Howard County Council Approves Police Accountability Board Bill

They Got Some Things Right, But…

The creation of a Police Accountability Board (PAB) in Howard County (in 2022) was mandated by the Maryland Police Accountability Act (MPAA) of 2021. The MPAA, amongst other things, requires the newly-created PABs to:

  • work with Law Enforcement Agencies and County Government to improve matters of policing and to add a new layer of police accountability.

  • engage the community in matters of policing.

On October 21, 2021, in keeping with the MPAA’s requirements, Howard County Executive Dr. Calvin Ball proposed a bill that would establish a PAB in Howard County (CB 83-2021). The bill, as originally proposed by the County Executive, was seriously flawed and it fell short of the laudable goals of the MPAA. On February 7th the Howard County Council passed CB 83-2021, including several pre-filed amendments submitted to correct the serious flaws in the original bill.

These amendments aligned significantly with three (3) key objectives prioritized by PATF-HoCo for achieving a strong PAB empowered to perform its duties and responsibilities, as envisioned by the MPAA:

1) A PAB that is an “independent” body of Howard County residents reflective of the community it serves.

2) The ability of the PAB to freely communicate its observations and findings with the community in regards to community policing.

3) The ability of the PAB to have full access to relevant and timely information from the county’s

law enforcement agencies to drive transparency and accountability.

Overall, the Howard County Council was successful in their efforts to improve many of the bill’s provisions by passing several corrective amendments. We received almost unanimous support from our County Council members regarding our first two objectives and we are thankful for each Council member’s support.


However, our third objective has not yet been fulfilled. The County Council rejected a proposed amendment introduced by Councilmember Walsh which would have given the PAB access to law enforcement agencies’ records and recordings in the immediate aftermath of a so-called “critical incident,” namely an officer-involved shooting or other use of force. The availability of such information to the PAB would enable it to monitor and expose potential corruption or cover-ups related to police use of force in “real-time.” Without this information, the PAB is powerless to expose any irregularities, misrepresentation or other avoidance of accountability in law enforcement investigations into such critical incidents, for example, where information is being mis-characterized or suppressed, or where there is a conflict of interest within law enforcement. However, please note that PATF-HoCo fully respects the leadership and officers of our County’s Law Enforcement Agencies. Our recommendations are completely agnostic to the current incumbents and are designed to promote, improve and assure the existence of effective accountability systems to address potential police misconduct. Councilmembers Jung and Walsh voted to pass this corrective amendment but we were not able to get a third vote to introduce this improvement to the Bill that would have provided for such a vital accountability role for the PAB.

We want to thank Councilmembers Jung, Rigby and Walsh for each sponsoring amendments to correct the original bill. We appreciate their willingness to actively engage with the community, and note that their engagement is especially meaningful regarding a bill that was written specifically to engage the community on matters of community policing.

There is still much to be done as we continue our work to drive police accountability and transparency, and to address racial disparities in policing in our county. We look forward to collaborating with the Howard County Executive and the Howard County Councilmembers on these important issues in our community.

Email: PATF.HoCo@Gmail.com

Website: PATF-HoCo

Twitter: @PATF_HoCo

About Us

The Police Accountability Task Force of Howard County (PATF-HoCo) is a group of long-term Howard County residents who organized in the summer of 2020 to take action within Howard County to address issues and concerns around racial inequality and disparities in policing. We are also excited to be working with significant community organizations in Howard County who share our concerns.


Press Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 3, 2022


Police Accountability Task Force of Howard County


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:

  • Vote NO to the Ball Administration’s attempt to gag the Police Accountability Board on matters of police misconduct.

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.

  • Vote YES to providing the Police Accountability Board with the tools it needs to be able to drive increased accountability in 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.

  • Vote YES to requiring members of the Police Accountability Board to be made up of individuals who represent the public interest.

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.

  • Take the time to get the Bill right so that the Police Accountability Board can exercise effective oversight over incidents of officer-involved shootings or other officer use-of-force incidents (so called “Critical Incidents”).

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.