Police Training Commission: No Regs Coming on Police Reform Structures, Process

The Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission deferred action on regulations to guide the implementation of legislated police reforms, which take effect July 1, 2022. Legal guidance on specific issues may be forthcoming from the Office of the Attorney General, but counties should not expect broad formal regulatory guidance as they work toward local implementation of the new law’s many provisions.

County governments have certain specific responsibilities under HB 670, the broad law enforcement reform legislation enacted during the 2021 legislative session. These include the creation of two oversight bodies, a Police Accountability Board and an Administrative Charging Committee. Both were spelled out in limited detail in the legislation itself, but appeared to be part of a catch-all regulatory framework added within the legislation:

On a technical note, the legislation’s mention of “subtitle” (above) refers to those laws subject to Commission regulations. The subtitle incorporates a very wide portion of the laws enacted in HB 670 – including both the county-level bodies noted above, the state-led disciplinary framework (noted further below), and each agency’s trial board process for adjudicating officer discipline proceedings.

The Police Training and Standards Commission, a State agency developed to offer training and guidance for law enforcement agencies across Maryland, was charged with developing regulations to help implement major portions of HB 670.

Initial efforts of the Commission included multiple stakeholders (local governments among them) and had pointed toward a January 2022 adoption of regulations. Following this vision would have offered timely guidance for counties obligated to form these local bodies by the July 1 effective date of the bill. The Commission has concluded this week but has not set forth regulations or a revised timeline for adopting regulations.

For more details on these county-level bodies envisioned under HB 670, see prior Conduit Street coverage: “Two New Boards Your County Will Need, After 2021 Police Reforms.”

Another topic delegated to the Commission is the development of a Model Disciplinary Matrix, detailed in the bill language to be developed at the state level and adopted by each law enforcement agency:

At its meeting this week, the Commission noted its intent to consult with the Office of the Attorney General for legal guidance on next steps with this matrix and some related matters. There is no certainty that regulations will be submitted for adoption prior to July 1. Without regulations, law enforcement agencies will need to assess their compliance with the legislation as enacted.

Multiple stakeholders, including local law enforcement agencies (Chiefs and Sheriffs) and the Maryland Municipal League will be pursuing remedial legislation in the 2022 Session, though it is not clear what the disposition of such matters may be.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties
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