Following July’s letter from the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission (PTSC) outlining training standards for Administrative Charging Committees (ACCs), the agency has once again issued a letter – this time focusing on training for Trial Boards.
Under the Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021, PABs review and oversee police misconduct complaints from the public, ACCs receive completed investigatory reports of police misconduct and determine levels of discipline, and trial boards hear appeals of any recommended discipline. In its letter, dated September 19, 2022, PTSC states it has:
developed a 16-hour trial board training program for civilian members and retired judges. Training will cover police procedures utilizing lecture, case studies, and situational based learning. Training will consist of 2 consecutive 8-hour days. Trial Board Members may not miss any time during this training period. We will begin scheduling training once members are identified.
The training requirements are markedly different between ACCs and Trial Boards. As mentioned in previous Conduit Street coverage, ACC members must undergo a five-day, 40-hour training. During the 2022 MACo Summer Conference, PTSC’s Executive Director, Wayne R. Silver, Sr., joined MACo’s County Attorneys’ Affiliate to discuss his agency’s training requirements as developed per the Police Accountability Act. Executive Director Silver explained that the training differential is attributable to the difference in each body’s makeup – Trial Boards have seasoned judges presiding, whereas ACCs are civilian-led.
For each police oversight body’s training, however, the Commission has decided that members cannot miss a day. In recent months, counties have raised several issues regarding the ability to recruit members of the public to populate said bodies. The time commitment and inflexibility of PTSC’s training offerings put into question whether the Police Accountability Act’s intent of civilian oversight can practically be fulfilled, as counties face an additional thinning of their pool of willing participants.