Municipal Oversight of Law Enforcement Encouraged by Counties

On February 21, 2023, Associate Policy Director Sarah Sample submitted testimony to the House Judiciary Committee in support of HB 0518 – Police Accountability Boards and Administrative Charging Committees – Municipal Corporations. 

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee considered the bill’s cross-file, SB 0409, also on February 21.

HB 0518 authorizes municipal governments to establish their own civilian police accounability boards (PAB) and administrative charging committees (ACC) to recieve and process compaints of police misconduct from the public, and to charge law enforcement officers when necessary. Counties are already required by law to establish, staff, and manage a PAB and an ACC in every jurisdiction. If municipalities were to lawfully exercise comparable powers, it could potentially help ease the workload of counties that would otherwise administer civilian oversight of all law enforcement misconduct allegations in their jurisdiction. Furthermore, delegating this investigatory authority to municipalities can help ensure the work is tailored to the specific needs of their communities, and that cases are reviewed in a timely manner.

From the MACo Testimony:

The integrity of the civilian oversight process is paramount to fulfilling the goals of law enforcement accountability. The mandated implementation is a task that has been absolutely and devotedly undertaken by all county governments. The allowance of municipalities to establish their own process as well preserves a trust in local authorities that the system demands, while sharing the administrative responsibilities with the appropriate parties. For this reason, MACo SUPPORTS HB 518 and urges a FAVORABLE report.