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.

Federal Commission Releases Opioid Report, President Declines Declaring National Emergency

Last week the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis released a preliminary report proposing recommendations for addressing the nation’s opioid crisis. One of their top recommendations was for the president to declare the opioid crisis a national public health emergency.

At a news conference this week the president declined to declare such an emergency.

The Washington Post reports that following an update from his health officials on the report, the president held a press conference and made statements focused on the importance of preventing people, particularly the youth, from ever starting to use drugs. Additionally, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price provided background to the decision not to declare a national emergency but assured those in attendance that the crisis would still be treated as an emergency:

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price later told reporters that declaring a national emergency is a step usually reserved for “a time-limited problem,” like the Zika outbreak or problems caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Declaring a state of emergency allows the government to quickly lift restrictions or waive rules so that states and local governments don’t have to wait to take action. Price said that the administration can do the same sorts of things without declaring an emergency, although he said Trump is keeping the option on the table.

“The president certainly believes that it is, that we will treat it as an emergency — and it is an emergency,” Price said during a news briefing held about eight miles from Trump’s golf club, where he is on a 17-day working vacation. “When you have the capacity of Yankee stadium or Dodger stadium dying every single year in this nation, that’s a crisis that has to be given incredible attention, and the president is giving it that attention.”

What does it mean to declare a public health emergency? Route Fifty reports on what a declaration of state of emergency on the opioid crisis would have meant. Generally a declaration would open the option for states to apply for additional funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, that could be used for treatment and prevention efforts. It would also provide flexibility to federal programs to allow for waivers of certain rules and regulations:

First, an emergency declaration would allow states that are declared disaster zones—areas that have been particularly hard-hit by the crisis—to receive funds from the federal Disaster Relief Fund, which as of June 30, 2017, had a balance of nearly $4.4 billion.

..

And, if the Trump administration declares an emergency under both the Stafford Act and Section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, it would allow temporary waivers on specific rules regarding federal programs like Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP. For example, Medicaid does not currently reimburse the costs of receiving drug treatment in facilities that have more than 16 beds. Many states have already applied for waivers on this rule, but an emergency declaration could give a blanket waiver to all 50 states.

An article in The Intercept decried the President’s focus on “just say no” and harsher sentences as a return to the 80’s war on drugs (that was ultimately found to be ineffective), but offers support for the Commission’s recommendation regarding Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT):

Even without the emergency declaration, at least one of the commission’s recommendations would transform the U.S. approach to the crisis and give those in its grip a real chance at recovery. It’s an approach that was embraced by the surgeon general in a report in November and consistently by the Office of National Drug Control Policy under Obama.

The recommendation is a direct shot at a drug-treatment industry that still relies on strict abstinence as the only form of true recovery, rejecting any intervention by medication. The stigma associated with what’s known as medication-assisted treatment is leading to unnecessary death and suffering across the country.

While much of the focus has been on the recommendation to declare a public health emergency, the report included a number of additional recommendations:

– Rapidly increase treatment capacity. Grant waiver approvals for all 50 states to quickly eliminate barriers to treatment resulting from the federal Institutes for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion within the Medicaid program. This will immediately open treatment to thousands of Americans in existing facilities in all 50 states.

– Mandate prescriber education initiatives with the assistance of medical and dental schools across the country to enhance prevention efforts. Mandate medical education training in opioid prescribing and risks of developing an SUD by amending the Controlled Substance Act to require all Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registrants to take a course in proper treatment of pain. HHS should work with partners to ensure additional training opportunities, including continuing education courses for professionals.

– Provide model legislation for states to allow naloxone dispensing via standing orders, as well as requiring the prescribing of naloxone with high-risk opioid prescriptions; we must equip all law enforcement in the United States with naloxone to save lives.

– Prioritize funding and manpower to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS)Customs and Border Protection, the DOJ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the DEA to quickly develop fentanyl detection sensors and disseminate them to federal, state,local, and tribal law enforcement agencies. Support federal legislation to staunch the flow of deadly synthetic opioids through the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).

– Provide federal funding and technical support to states to enhance interstate data sharing among state-based prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) to better track patient-specific prescription data and support regional law enforcement in cases of controlled substance diversion. Ensure federal health care systems, including Veteran’s Hospitals, participate in state-based data sharing.

– Better align, through regulation, patient privacy laws specific to addiction with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to ensure that information about SUDs be made available to medical professionals treating and prescribing medication to a patient. This could be done through the bipartisan Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act/Jessie’s Law.

– Enforce the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) with a standardized parity compliance tool to ensure health plans cannot impose less favorable benefits for mental health and substance use diagnoses verses physical health diagnoses.

For more information:

President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis Preliminary Report

Trump Holds off on Declaring Opioid Crisis a National Emergency (The Washington Post)

Trump Didn’t Declare the Opioid Crisis a National Emergency. What If He Had? (Route Fifty)

Trump’s Opioid Commission Had Some Stunningly Good Recommendations. He Ignored Them for 80s Drug War Nostalgia (The Intercept)

Hogan Lauds St. Mary’s Police Efforts and Murder Charges for Drug Dealers

At a press conference held Wednesday morning in Leonardtown, Governor Larry Hogan joined St. Mary’s County’s Sheriff Tim Cameron, Attorney Richard Fritz, and Sheriff Captain Eric Sweeney, as well as Maryland State Police Colonel William Palozzi to praise their efforts through a long-term investigation to bring charges against suspected drug dealers whose actions have led to overdose deaths.

McClatchy DC Bureau reports on Hogan’s remarks on what the success in St. Mary’s could mean for other counties running investigations across the state and for turning the tide on the crisis:

Hogan, speaking a news conference in Leonardtown, said he hopes the long-term investigation would serve as a model to prosecutors statewide for fighting a deadly epidemic that resulted in more than 2,000 overdose deaths last year in Maryland.

“Everyone is entitled to due process, and everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but I believe that this is the level of tough prosecution that we need in order to turn the tide in this deadly fight,” Hogan said. “Investing in prevention and treatment can only work if we eliminate the threat posed by drug traffickers all across the state of Maryland.”

The Bay Net provides more information on the charges that were filed against the eight individuals:

Fritz announced the indictments of eight individuals on second-degree murder charges related to drug sales and the deaths of drug users.

Each of the suspected drug dealers is now facing charges of second degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and additional distribution and possession charges.

For more information:

Fritz to announce murder charges related to overdose deaths (The Bay Net)

Maryland governor applauds murder charges in overdose cases (McClatchy DC Bureau)

 

Prince George’s Announces 2018 Domestic Violence Grant Program

The Prince George’s County Council has announced an FY 2018 appropriation of $500,000 to support the Council’s Domestic Violence Grant Program.

According to a press release,

The grant program is a funding resource for programs that serve the housing, counseling, and advocacy needs of County residents who are victims of domestic violence. The program also supports prevention activities through a coordinated and collaborative community response to domestic violence in Prince George’s County.

The FY 18 Prince George’s County Council Domestic Violence Grant Program funds are available to nonprofit organizations through a review and evaluation process for all applicants.

“This County Council initiative is the start of a continuing offensive against the tragedy of domestic violence. We reaffirm our commitment to joining the efforts of our entire community to comprehensively address the scourge of domestic violence…TOGETHER.” – Council Chairman Derrick Leon Davis

Read the full Prince George’s County press release for more information.

To Boost Veterans’ Health Services President Touts Technology

The Trump Administration has announced new technology based initiatives to improve access to and delivery of veterans’ health services. The initiatives are expected to expand access to services in rural areas, and access to mental health and suicide prevention services across the board.

The AP reports:

Initiatives include using video technology and diagnostic tools to conduct medical exams. Veterans also will be able to use mobile devices to make and manage appointments with Veterans Administration doctors.

“We call it ‘anywhere to anywhere’ VA health care,” VA Secretary David Shulkin said. Shulkin said the goal is better health care for veterans wherever they are. He said existing “telehealth” programs provided care to more than 700,000 veterans last year.

The article notes that the initiatives await regulations in order to be launched.

Read the AP article to learn more.

Learn about how counties are working to provide innovative services and support to veterans at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference session “Serving Those Who Served Our Country” on Friday, August 18, from 2:15 pm – 3:15 pm.

The MACo summer conference is August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City Maryland. This year’s theme is “You’re Hired!”.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Anne Arundel Conducts In-Service Dementia Awareness Training

The Anne Arundel County Department of Aging and Disabilities and the Anne Arundel County Police Department announced the successful conclusion of the 2017 in-service dementia awareness training of 691 members of the force. This collaboration was recognized at an event at the Department of Aging and Disabilities. During the event, training staff members were presented police citations in recognition of their hard work and dedication.

According to a press release,

Every 66 seconds, someone in the United States develops the disease. There are currently more than 5 million Americans living with the disease. By 2050, this could increase to more than 16 million.

The Department of Aging and Disabilities provided the training Communicating Through Behaviors with the Virtual Dementia Tour to the Anne Arundel County Police Department. This is a scientifically proven method of building a greater understanding of dementia through the use of patented sensory tools and instruction. This is an up-close, hands-on experience that provides critical insight to those caring for dementia. This tour is an eye-opening experience that proves how difficult the disease can be for the patients and caregivers alike.

“This is yet another example of how our county agencies are collaborating toimprove service to the public while enhancing public safety,” said County Executive Steve Schuh.

Director of the Anne Arundel County Department of Aging and Disabilities, Pamela Jordan, stated, “It is so important that we support our first responders to give them the tools they need to understand this disease. The likelihood that first responders will encounter this in field is very high.”

For information call the Anne Arundel County Department of Aging and Disabilities at 410-222-4257 or go online to http://www.aacounty.org/aging. TTY users, please call via Maryland Relay 7-1-1. All materials are available in an alternative format upon request.

Learn how counties are collaborating with stakeholders to provide citizens with resources to assess, treat, and manage cognitive impairment at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference session “Smoothing the Rough Road: Addressing Dementia Challenges” on Friday, August 18, from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm.

The MACo summer conference is August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City Maryland. This year’s theme is “You’re Hired!”.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Central Maryland Counties Connect on State’s Public Safety Radio Network

Since the tragedy of 9-1-1, the nation’s public safety forces have been focused on connecting fire, police, and other public safety partners through interoperable radio systems. Maryland FiRST is this state’s answer to that issue, allowing public safety officers across the state to communicate and coordinate during a regional catastrophe.

MACo has advocated for a strong interoperable communications system to support local responders. And, several years ago, in coordination with the Maryland Governor’s Office on Homeland Security, MACo pushed for a MD FiRST governance structure that included representation of county partners. The Radio Control Board, the result of that advocacy, continues to guide MD FiRST’s progress.

Governor Hogan announces the first call on the extended radio system. Image courtesy of Maryland State Police (@MDSP)

Today was a day to celebrate the progress of Maryland’s interoperable radio system. As announced by the Maryland State Police:

Today, Governor Larry Hogan joined Superintendent of the Maryland State Police Colonel William Pallozzi, Deputy Secretary Lance Shine of the Maryland Department of Information Technology, Maryland FiRST Team and other state and local officials to make the ceremonial call marking the completion of the third phase of the Maryland First Responders Interoperable Radio System Team or “Maryland FiRST” while demonstrating the system’s capabilities.

As described, the third phase will extend MD FiRST’s coverage throughout central Maryland. From the State Police,

This third phase of Maryland FiRST is fully operational and completes the coverage of Central Maryland. The connection will covers Cecil, Harford, Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Howard, Carroll and Frederick Counties. The first phase of the project began in 2012 and connected portions of Central Maryland and Kent County, and key infrastructure patrolled by the Maryland Transportation Authority Police to include: the I-95 corridor, BWI Airport, Port of Baltimore, the Inter County Connector (ICC), the Key Bridge, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, the Harry Nice Bridge and both tunnels under the Baltimore harbor.

 

For more information, see the News Release from the Maryland State Police.

City Police Pilot Crisis Response Teams

The Baltimore City Police Department is six weeks into a pilot program pairing officers with social workers in an effort to improve police response to calls where a person is in the midst of a mental health crisis. Officials are exploring whether the pilot, funded by grants received by Behavioral Health Systems Baltimore, can ultimately be expanded to a city-wide program.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

The pair make up a crisis response team that has answered 85 calls as part of a pilot program that officials eventually plan to take citywide. The goal is to improve relations with the public and reduce use of jails and emergency rooms for people who would be better served in treatment.

“They literally are riding in the same car,” said Kevin Davis, Baltimore’s police commissioner, who called the program long overdue during a news conference Thursday. “This will inevitably have more positive results.”

 

Read The Baltimore Sun to learn more.

Trump Administration Doubles Down on Policies Against ‘Sanctuary Cities’

The Trump Administration has announced a new policy against ‘sanctuary cities’ requiring the Justice Department to withhold certain grant monies from local jurisdictions that do not cooperate with federal immigration agents.  The Hill reports:

The Justice Department said that cities must provide federal immigration officials with access to jails and give a two-day notice before releasing a person who is residing in the U.S. illegally or risk funding being cut off.

The agency’s grants now will only be available “to cities and states that comply with federal law, allow federal immigration access to detention facilities, and provide 48 hours notice before they release an illegal alien wanted by federal authorities,” according to the agency announcement.

The move marks a change from old rules under which cities could still receive federal grants as long as they could prove they were not blocking local law enforcement from flagging the citizenship status of someone they have in custody.

“We must encourage these ‘sanctuary’ jurisdictions to change their policies and partner with federal law enforcement to remove criminals,” Sessions said.

The LA Times reports on the fiscal reach and limitations of the policy change:

The new policy, announced by the Department of Justice, will apply to all cities that get grants from the so-called Byrne Justice Assistance grant program, for which the administration has requested just over $380 million for the coming year.

So far, the new policy applies only to those justice assistance grants, which local jurisdictions can use for a wide variety of programs related to law enforcement, including drug treatment, witness protection and prisoner reentry programs.

Although the move carries considerable symbolism because of the high-profile debate over sanctuaries, the money involved is roughly half a percent of federal grants to state and local governments, according to figures from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Sessions has been pressuring so-called sanctuary cities for several months, but this is the first time that the Justice Department has set down specific rules and applied them to an entire grant program.

More information:

Trump admin escalates crackdown on sanctuary cities (The Hill)

Trump administration toughens policy toward ‘sanctuary’ cities, but the move affects only some funds (The LA Times)

Billions in County Funding Excluded from “Sanctuary” Order Provision (Conduit Street)

Sanctuary Cities, Maryland Could Lose Federal Justice Grant Dollars (Conduit Street)

Howard County Corrections Awarded SBIRT Grant to Address Addiction

Behavioral Health Systems Baltimore has awarded an $86,000 grant to the Howard County Department of Corrections to establish a Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) program to service pretrial and short sentenced inmates.

SBIRT is an evidence-based process used to identify, reduce, and prevent problematic substance use and dependence; a tool the county hopes will prove helpful in addressing the opioid crisis. The grant allows the county to use SBIRT for the first time in a detention center setting.

As announced by Howard County:

Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman today announced the county Department of Corrections is being given a Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) grant for nearly $86,000 from Behavioral Health System Baltimore to provide early intervention and treatment services to inmates with sentences less than six months or that are being temporarily held awaiting trial.  This is the latest tool in the fight against opioid addiction and is being deployed for the first time in a detention center setting.

“The pervasive opioid problem in our community requires that we have a variety of options available to us to break the cycle of addiction,” said Kittleman. “If we can offer treatment options even among lower-level offenders, we might be able to prevent them from coming back through the system for a longer stay.  The Department of Corrections sees many inmates that can benefit from these early support services.”

The SBIRT program has traditionally proven effective in hospital and other medical settings.  For the first time in a detention center, the grant, awarded for one year, will allow for trained staff to screen inmates, provide advice to at-risk individuals and offer referrals to treatment.  Corrections will partner with existing Howard County Health Department staff providing mental health and addiction services at the detention center.

“We may be able to prevent emergency responses, reduce medical expenses and even save lives if we can help divert these individuals from a path of addiction and crime,” said Jack Kavanagh, Director of Corrections. “This problem must be fought on multiple fronts and we are adding jail as one more place where we can make a difference.  With treatment options, maybe the time incarcerated can be productive.”

MACo will be hosting a forum at our 2017 Summer Conference on the opioid crisis. The Opioid Forum: Combating the Crisis, will be moderated by  Clay Stamp, Executive Director of the Opioid Operational Command Center (OCCC) and will afford attendees the opportunity to ask questions, express concerns, and share best practices on addressing the opioid crisis. The forum will be held on Saturday, August 19, 2017 from 10:00 am – 11:15 am.

The MACo summer conference is August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City Maryland. This year’s theme is “You’re Hired!”.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference: