Much-Anticipated Police Accountability Act Regs Published

On Friday, June 24th, the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission published emergency regulations regarding police accountability boards (PABs)/administrative charging committees (ACCs) and the police disciplinary matrix.

Given their emergency designation, the regulations will be in effect for 180 days until fully finalized regulations are published. Under the Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021, the Commission was charged with developing police disciplinary standards and guidelines. The provisions of COMAR 12.04.09, governing county PABs and ACCs, are broad and provide counties with great latitude in establishing their respective boards and committees. COMAR 12.04.10 establishes guidelines surrounding the official police disciplinary matrix (published separately) on which PABs and ACCs will rely to carry out their duties.

COMAR 12.04.09 – PABs and ACCs

While not an exhaustive list, the regulatory framework governing PABs and ACCs does the following:

  • Provides definitions for “appointing authority,” “conflict of interest,” “final disposition,” “good moral character,” and other necessary terminology
  • Allows counties to set PAB eligibility standards, including for age, citizenship, and residency
  • Allows counties to set the size of PABs and ACCs
  • Requires PAB and ACC members to maintain confidentiality through written agreements until a final disposition
  • For ACCs, allows counties to set eligibility standards, including good moral character, as well as exclusion standards, including conflicts of interest and being under criminal investigation
  • Provides 30 days for individuals to apply for an ACC position
  • Requires ACCs to act within 30 days of receiving an investigatory file
  • Requires ACC members to immediately report an adverse event (defined) that may harm the public trust of the ACC
  • Requires ACC members to elect a Chairman who will preside using Robert’s Rules of Order
  • Designates ACCs as public bodies subject to the Open Meetings Act
  • Establishes that three ACC members constitute a quorum
  • Allows a complainant to waive the PAB/ACC process and opt for mediation
  • Allows ACC members to request additional information and investigation by the law enforcement agency that conducted the initial investigation
  • Requires a majority vote for all ACC determinations
  • Allows law enforcement agency heads to discipline officers beyond ACC recommendations

COMAR 12.04.10 – Police Disciplinary Matrix 

Again, while not an exhaustive list, the police disciplinary matrix regulatory framework does the following:

  • Establishes six categories of violations on a scale of A through F, ranging from least to most severe, respectively
  • Defines necessary terminology, including “aggravating factors” and “mitigating factors” for disciplinary purposes
  • Establishes three tiers for discipline based on prior disciplinary history
  • Sets penalties ranging from written counseling in the least egregious circumstances to termination in the worst circumstances
  • Allows for demotions of officers having committed D- or E-level violations
  • Creates additional disciplinary measures, including suspensions, counseling, and remedial training
  • Allows ACCs to determine the appropriate category of a violation should it fall into several different categories
  • Provides law enforcement agency heads and ACCs the ability to address violations not included in the matrix

See the full emergency regulations on the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission website.