MACo Supports Bill to Enhance Accountability & Uphold Integrity of Law Enforcement

MACo Policy Analyst, Natasha Mehu, testified in support with amendments of HB 1016, Public Safety and Policing Workgroup – Recommendations, to the House Judiciary Committee on February 23, 2016.

MACo believes that Maryland citizens should have the utmost confidence in the law enforcement serving their communities. Therefore, reforms that enhance accountability and uphold the integrity of the law enforcement community should be pursued.

Counties seek to ensure that among these broad reforms, the disciplinary process remains effective; statewide standards are flexible and feasible; and that whistleblower protections are not overbroad.

From the MACo testimony,

MACo supports provisions of the bill that would extend the deadline for filing brutality complaints from 90 days to 366 days, and would eliminate the requirement that brutality complaints be notarized. However, MACo cautions against altering hearing boards in a way that may inadvertently impede the imposition of discipline.

The bill also repeals the Maryland Police Trainings Commission (MPTC) and establishes the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission (MPTSC) as an independent executive unit. The MPTSC has many of the same duties of the MPTC but would have broader authority to mandate trainings, set standards, and provide operational oversight. Counties seek flexibility in implementing these goals and policies.

Whistleblower protections should not grant overbroad immunity and inadvertently encourage abuse by employees. The bill provides for extensive whistleblower protections; however, significant protections already exist under current law.

In approaching the broad reforms proposed by the bill, MACo urges the committee to ensure that the disciplinary process remains effective; that new standards and training requirements are feasible; and that whistleblower protections do not open the door for abuse. For these reasons, MACo urges a FAVORABLE WITH AMENDMENTS report on HB 1016, and encourages the Committee to work toward a positive resolution.

For more on 2016 MACo legislation, visit the Legislative Database.

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