Baltimore County Considers Body Camera Use For Police Officers Employed As Security Guards

A Baltimore Sun article (2017-08-10) reported Maryland Senator Jim Brochin is considering legislation that would require Baltimore County police officers to use their body cameras when working a second job as a security guard. The proposal is based on an incident where an off-duty uniformed County police officer fatally shot a man while working as a security guard outside of a Catonsville Giant supermarket. The article noted that some other local governments, including Baltimore City, Howard County, and the City of Laurel require that the police body cameras be used when an officer is working a security job in uniform.

In the article Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz noted his support for similar measures in the past and that the County would need to examine the costs for providing and maintaining the cameras for secondary employment and whether the secondary employer should share in those costs. From the article:

“I’ve been a strong proponent of police body cameras,” [Kamenetz] said. “I think that they are a very useful tool.” …

“If the rules of the county Police Department allow them to wear their uniforms when they’re not on duty and they’re in a different job, then the same rules have to be enforced in regards to body cameras,” Brochin said. “This incident raises obvious questions.”

The article also noted that the officer is on administrative duty pending the results of the shooting investigation.

Open Meetings Board Considers Legislation, Training Issues at 2017 Annual Meeting

The Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board (OMCB) held its 2017 annual meeting on August 3 in Annapolis and considered both potential legislation and training issues. MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp attended and offered comments, as did representatives from the Maryland Municipal League (MML), Dorchester County, and a private Anne Arundel County law firm.

The 3-member volunteer board consists of former Anne Arundel County Attorney Jonathan Hodgson, attorney Rachel Shapiro Grasmick, and attorney April C. Ishak. Hodgson chairs the board. OMCB receives and reviews alleged violations of Maryland’s Open Meetings Act.

OMCB discussed the following issues:

  • Review and approval of several reports required by 2o17 legislation (HB 880/SB 450) including the tracking and recording of new training requirements under the Act. OMCB’s report examined a variety of ways the training data could be maintained and ultimately recommended that having each public body keep its own records regarding training was the most practical and cost-effective solution. OMCB also approved a recommendation to work with MACo, MML, and the Maryland Association of Boards of Education to distribute open meetings information on behalf of OMCB. The organizations will also provide OMCB with specific email lists to better target information distribution.    a
  • Review and approval of OMCB’s 25th annual report. The report noted that between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017, OMCB received 32 complaints regarding 26 public bodies, with one complainant submitting 9 complaints. There were also 6 docketed compaints remaining from the prior fiscal year for a total of 38 complaints. OMCB issued 27 opinions, finding violations of varying seriousness in 18 opinions.
  • Consideration of potential legislation for the 2018 Session. OMCB decided not to introduce any legislative proposals for the 2018 Session. However, the board members did discuss processes to ensure they were consulted on legislation affecting the Act or the Board and to take a default position of oppose to any relevant legislation they had not had a chance to review. The OMCB also discussed the evidentiary challenges and enforcement usefulness of addressing complaints filed more than one year after the alleged violation, or where the public body no longer exists or its members are completely different.

Knapp commented that MACo supported the OMCB recommendations and actions, as did the other attending outside representatives.

Useful Links

OMCB Webpage

HB 880 / SB 450 of 2017

Annapolis Mayor Prohibits Commentary on President, National Issues on City Social Media

A Baltimore Sun article (2017-08-06) reported that Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantelides has instructed city administration officials to refrain from commenting about United States President Donald Trump or national policy issues on social media. The order includes both positive and negative comments and was  issued in response to an Annapolis Police Department Facebook response to a recent Trump remark about how the police should handle certain suspects. From the article:

“This is going to distract us from our core mission of serving the citizens of Annapolis,” Pantelides wrote in the email. “To reiterate do not post anything whether it’s positive or negative about the president or national politics. Focus your time and energy on helping to make the city of Annapolis better.”

The article noted the Pantelides was concerned about the time and resources needed to “deal with the blowback from this,” and that national issues are typically more political than and disconnected from municipal concerns. The order allegedly reinforces a previous unwritten policy about not using city social media platforms to comment on national issues.

The story serves as an example of how many county and municipal governments are struggling to define how to appropriately use official social media accounts.

Former Carroll Commissioner Sues Taneytown Over Alleged Open Meetings Violation

A Carroll County Times article (2017-07-31) reported on the civil action brought by former Carroll County Commissioner Robin Frazier against the Taneytown City Council and mayor for allegedly violating Maryland’s Open Meetings Act. Frazier’s husband, Donald Frazier, is a council member. Robin Frazier is representing herself as the plaintiff. Attorney Kevin Karpinski is representing the defendants. Judge Lawrence Daniels is hearing the case.

According to the article, Robin Frazier alleged in her opening statements that the Mayor and City Council provide proper notice for: (1) the closed meeting; and (2) the open meeting where the council voted to go into closed session. Karpinski’s opening statement countered by noting that the council was considering two measures opposed by Donald Frazier: (1) a charter amendment that would allow the council to remove a member; and (2) a code of conduct measure.

Mayor James McCarron testified that a June 13 letter from Donald Frazier to the council members warning that they would be sued if they passed the code of conduct measure was the reason McCarron called for the closed session.  According to the article Karpinski argued that the notice of the closed meeting was published several days prior and that Robin Frazier was aware of the notice.

Make sure you are up-to-date on open meetings law requirements by taking the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance Open Meetings course at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference. The course is being offered on Wednesday, August 16, from 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Everything You Need to Know About the New Open Meetings Act Requirements

During the 2017 Session, the Maryland General Assembly passed and Governor Larry Hogan signed into law new Open Meetings Act training requirements for public bodies (HB 880 / SB 450). Public bodies have until October 1, 2017, to comply with the new training requirements. Here are the five things you need to know to be in compliance:

(1) At least one member of each public body must take a training class on the Open Meetings Act. Under current law, each public body must designate at least one individual who is an employee, officer, or member to take the training class. While employees or staff can continue to take the training class, after October 1, 2017, at least one member of the public body must be also designated to take the class. The designated member has 90 days after the designation to take the class.

(2) Training classes can be taken through four different designated sources. The law identifies four designated sources where the training may be taken: (1) an online class offered by the Office of Attorney General and the University of Maryland’s Institute for Governmental Service and Research; (2) a class offered by MACo at its annual conferences through the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance; (3) a class offered by the Maryland Municipal League (MML) at its annual conferences through the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance; and (4) a class offered by the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE) through the Boardmanship Academy Program. If a designated member had previously taken the training from one of the listed sources on or after October 1, 2013, the member DOES NOT have to take the training again. However, if a designated member had previously taken the training before October 1, 2013, the member must retake the training from one of the listed sources.

(3) Public bodies that have not designated a member to take a class may not meet in closed session after October 1, 2017. If a public body has not designated a member to take the class by October 1, 2017, the public body loses the ability to go into closed session. The member only needs to be designated by October 1 and may take the class at a later date as long as it falls within the 90 days after being designated.

(4) When going into closed session, a public body must either: (1) have a least one member designated to take the training class present; or (2) follow and complete the Compliance Checklist for Meetings Subject to the Open Meetings Act. After October 1, 2017, a public body can only enter closed session if it meets one of two requirements – either at least one member who has been designated to take the training class is present or the public body follows and completes the Compliance Checklist for Meetings Subject to the Open Meetings Act developed by the Office of the Attorney General. If the checklist option is used, the checklist must be included in the public body’s meeting minutes.

(5) Public bodies under the Maryland Judiciary are exempt from the training and closed session meeting requirements. Due to the unique nature of public bodies under the Maryland Judiciary, the new training requirements do not apply to public bodies that are: (1) under the judicial branch of State government; or (2) subject to governance by rules adopted by the Court of Appeals.

MACo will be offering its next Open Meetings training at its 2017 Summer Conference on August 16 from 3:30 PM – 5:00 PM in Ocean City, MD. Read more about it on page 7 of the registration brochure.

MACo and MML are offering an Open Meetings course through the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance on September 12 from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM in Gaithersburg, MD. More information here.

If you have any questions regarding the new Open Meetings Act requirements, please contact MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp at 410.269.0043 or lknapp@mdcounties.org.

Useful Links

HB 880 of 2017

SB 450 of 2017

Online Class for Maryland’s Open Meetings Act

Compliance Checklist for Meetings Subject to the Open Meetings Act

MACo 2017 Summer Conference Attendee Registration Brochure

MACo 2017 Summer Conference Attendee Online Registration

September 12 MML/MACo Open Meetings Training Information

Howard County Schools Launch Website for PIA Requests

Howard County schools interim superintendent Michael Martirano emphasized the need for transparency at a press conference Friday that formally launched the school system’s new Maryland Public Information Act request website.

The Baltimore Sun reports,

The website, which has been live since July 1, allows users to submit a request to access school system public records and documents as allowed under Maryland’s Public Information Act. Users can also view previously submitted requests and their completion status, which Martirano said is meant to help decrease the number of redundant requests the school system receives.

There have been 12 requests submitted since the site was created, one of which has been completed, 10 are “in progress” and one is “submitted.” Names of the requesters are not included on the site, something Martirano said the school system purposefully did so users would not be discouraged from submitting requests.

Danielle Lueking serves as the school system’s new senior communications specialist and Maryland Public Information Act representative. Lueking, who was hired this year, is charged with overseeing the review and completion of the requests.

Read the full article for more information.

Md. Cybersecurity Council Releases Biennial Report

The Maryland Cybersecurity Council, created by law in 2014, issued a biennial report highlighting legislation enacted to protect consumers and the development of a “Cybersecurity Breach Portal,” a one-stop portal housing resources and best practices to help prevent and address cybersecurity infrastructure attacks.

The report from the council is discussed on the Maryland Attorney General’s website:

Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh, Chair of the Maryland Cybersecurity Council, today announced the release of its Biennial Report, outlining the Council’s activities and updated recommendations based on its findings over the last 12 months. The report follows up on its Preliminary Report issued in July 2016, in which several of the Council’s recommendations have been implemented. The recommendations include enactment of several bills that expand protections for consumers, the creation of a portal to house best practices and additional resources to protect Maryland’s critical infrastructure. “The Council has made progress in its first year, but much remains to be done to protect against threats to Maryland’s citizens, critical infrastructure and state operations,” said Attorney General Frosh. “The recommendations developed by the Council provide a solid roadmap for addressing cyber security issues.”

In Fiscal Year 2016, the Office of Attorney General reported that there were 564 data breaches affecting more than 600,000 Maryland residents. According to the report, these breaches were due to phishing, retail malware, lost or stolen laptops or other devices, unauthorized access, and inadvertent administrative error, such as mistakenly sending personal identifying information to third parties not authorized to have it. In response, in the 2017 legislative session, at the recommendation of the Council, the Maryland General Assembly enacted bills to expand the protections under the Maryland Personal Information Protection Act (SB 525/HB 974) and to waive data breach victims’ fees for a credit freeze (SB 270/HB 212), effective January 1, 2018 and October 1, 2017, respectively.

In an effort to assist small and medium-sized enterprises that do not have the deep financial  and professional cybersecurity resources of much larger organizations, the Council developed, in partnership with the Maryland Department of Information Technology (DoIT), a one-stop portal housing resources and best practices to help prevent and address cybersecurity infrastructure attacks. The portal will be available in the fall of 2017, and can be found on the Office of Attorney General and the Maryland Cybersecurity Council websites.

The Biennial report also outlined updates on the recommendations the Council provided in its Preliminary Report from July 2016 to advance Maryland’s cybersecurity. The progress and full summary of each of the recommendations are detailed in the full report.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: MD Cybersecurity Council Calls for “Cyber First Responders”

The full biennial report is available online from the Attorney General’s Office

Md. Election Board Denies White House Commission’s Request For Voter Data

Maryland will not comply with a request from President Trump’s voter integrity commission to supply data on the state’s registered voters.

According to The Washington Post,

Maryland’s primary election (photo credit: The Washington Post)

Linda H. Lamone, the administrator for the state Board of Elections, said in a letter on Monday to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity that the request violates state election law.

“Disclosure of some of the information encompassed by your request may be prohibited under State and/or federal law,” the letter reads. “Accordingly, I am denying your request.”

Maryland joins more than two dozen other states that have partially or entirely rejected the request by the commission, which is chaired by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.. The Maryland board had sought advice from state Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) on how to respond to the unprecedented request, which was made last week.

Both Common Cause Maryland and the ACLU of Maryland had raised questions about whether turning over the data would violate state election law.

Damon Effingham, legal and policy director for Common Cause Maryland, said Maryland law only allows only Maryland registered voters to request to inspect voter roll information. The voter has to submit a statement that the information would not be used for commercial purposes or purposes unrelated to the electoral process.

“Secretary of State Kobach is a registered voter in Kansas,” Effingham said in a statement. “And the request . . . does not include any indication of how the data will be used, let alone the required statement of intent under Maryland law. In fact, the Commission has stated its intent to release this vast trove of data to the public, creating significant concerns with how that data will ultimately be used.”

Click here to read the full statement from the State Board of Elections.

Will You Throw the First Pitch?

Screenshot 2017-06-26 15.05.44
Step up and share your county’s IT needs at MACo’s Summer Conference.

This year’s MACo Conference offers attendees an opportunity to voice county government information technology interests directly to private sector providers in an informal, informational format.

Share challenges & discover capabilities in this new Tech Wednesday offering.

SWITCH PITCH” IGNITE! — Meet Your Match: Solutions to County IT Challenges

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Gain quick insight into what tech can do for county governments in this fast-paced session. County IT and management professionals will state their needs, and vendors in the Tech Expo Tradeshow will respond with their pitch for solving the top tech issues. Attendees will get a chance to learn a little about a lot of vendors in a short period of time. Listen and learn!

Example County Pitches

  1. How do I empower employees to work from home in a secure and productive manner at minimal cost to the County?
  2. There are so many mobile apps in the market. Other than reading through the reviews, how can one determine the overall quality of a mobile app?  Is there a standard to check an app’s quality? What is it?
  3. What and where have been some of the more successful public/private partnerships providing broadband to unserved rural areas?

SIGN UP HERE TO BE A PART OF THIS SESSION Space is limited – Reply by July 19.

Have a pitch, but you are not attending this session?  Contact Robin Clark Eilenberg at MACo.

Tech Wednesday Vendor List

  • AVI-SPL, Inc
  • CDW-G
  • Comcast
  • Commvault
  • Cybersecurity Association of Maryland, Inc.
  • Data Networks of America
  • ePlus Technology Inc.
  • Esri
  • Freedom Broadband
  • Fujitsu America, Inc.
  • GovDeals, Inc.
  • Juniper Networks
  • Lenovo
  • Maryland Department of Natural Resources
  • Maryland Libraries
  • Maryland Relay
  • Motorola Solutions, Inc.
  • Musco Sports Lighting
  • NIC Maryland
  • Phillips Office Solutions
  • Presidio
  • Prosys Information Systems
  • Regent Development Consulting, Inc. (RDC)
  • Ricoh USA, Inc.
  • Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc.
  • Rudolph’s Office & Computer Supply, Inc.
  • SAIC
  • ShoreScan Solutions
  • Splunk
  • Sprint
  • Supply Solutions, LLC
  • Tomi Environmental Solutions

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Baltimore County Council Considers 4 Transparency Bills

A Baltimore Sun article (2017-06-14) reported that the Baltimore County Council is currently considering four pieces of legislation addressing transparency and open government. According to the article, the legislation includes:

  1. requiring the Council to hold evening meetings (sponsored by Council Member Wade Kach);
  2. requiring one additional public hearing on the county’s annual budget (sponsored by Council Member Wade Kach);
  3. requiring ethics training for certain county officials (sponsored by Council Member Vicki Almond); and
  4. prohibiting campaign contributions during the county’s rezoning process (sponsored by Council Member Vicki Almond).

From the article:

Common Cause Maryland, a government watchdog group, lauded the efforts.

“We’re glad to see the county taking ethical concerns in the community seriously and looking to address them,” said Damon Effingham, the group’s legal and policy director. …

One of Kach’s bills would put an end to the council practice of discussing bills and taking public testimony during weekday afternoon work sessions. County residents rarely attend those sessions, and often no one from the public testifies on the bills.

Kach wants those work sessions to be held at 6 p.m. or later, like the council’s voting sessions on Monday nights in Towson.

He has proposed a requirement that the county executive hold at least two public meetings before introducing the budget.

Currently, only the council holds a public hearing on the budget. This year, no one testified at that hearing.

“One of the reasons that the [Baltimore County] council hearing may have received little engagement in the past could be because, at that point, many priorities of the budget are already basically decided on,” Effingham said.

The article also discussed Almond’s rezoning and training bills:

Rezoning, one of the major powers held by council members in Baltimore County, is an area of intense lobbying and community input. Council members already have an unofficial agreement against accepting campaign donations during the yearlong process. Almond’s bill would turn that into a requirement. …

“With the zoning issues, we deal so much with the developers and the attorneys. There’s a perception that if we take money from somebody that we’ll do what they want us to do,” said Almond, of Reisterstown. “It’s totally not true. This bill helps to say we’re not doing anything wrong.” …

Almond’s other bill would require annual training in ethics laws for county elected officials, top aides, top county officials, members of certain boards and commissions and registered lobbyists. The course would be provided by the county’s Ethics Commission.

Almond said county officials get only cursory training in ethics, or pick up their ethics knowledge on the fly.

The article noted that the bills will be discussed during a June 27 work session and possibly voted on July 3.