On February 14, 2023, Associate Policy Director Sarah Sample testified before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in support of SB 0285 – County Police Accountability Boards – Investigation of Complaints of Police Misconduct.
This bill grants counties the ability to authorize their police accountability boards to conduct an investigation of police misconduct concurrently with any law enforcement agency investigating the complaint. It also gives counties the option of vesting their police accountability boards with the requisite investigatory and subpoena powers to carry out these inquiries. As a general rule, the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) favors legislation that delegates more authority to local government. Communities understand their own needs better than anyone, and because SB 0285 provides counties with some leeway in determining if they want to implement these new tools, the legislation balances the goals of police reform with those of local autonomy.
From the MACo Testimony:
The structure of police accountability boards as established by the police reform legislation of 2021 is intended to enhance public oversight of officer misconduct. [SB 0285] would extend local government power to further enable this civilian body. Additionally, since the bill creates this ability only as an option for local governments rather than a mandate, it does not require any action from counties that feel their existing process is sufficient to uphold the intent of the original law… The integrity of the civilian oversight process is paramount to fulfilling the intent of police reform that has been absolutely and devotedly undertaken by all local governments. The attempt to further enable counties in that process encourages and preserves a trust in local authorities that stands to restore the faith of the public.
More on MACo’s Advocacy: