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Anne Arundel police to reschedule disciplinary hearing board for officer, add more seating for public

A disciplinary hearing for an Anne Arundel County police detective set to begin Wednesday was postponed late Monday night because a witness is no longer available to testify, police said. The hearing, known as a trial board, does not have a rescheduled date yet.

The trial board will have more seating available to the public when it is rescheduled. The police department expanded the number of locations where video feed of the hearing will broadcast after heeding repeated calls from community members who pressed to make the hearing more accessible.

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“We believe it is important and necessary to provide increased access in order to allow as much opportunity for public viewing as possible while maintaining adherence to COVID-19 safety guidelines,” Police Chief Amal Awad said in a statement.

A hearing for Detective Daniel Reynolds was planned for 8 a.m. Wednesday to determine if a recommendation that he be fired is appropriate discipline for the officer. Reynolds was suspended this summer after an Odenton man, Daniel Jarrells, filed a lawsuit claiming Reynolds knelt on his neck after Jarrells was taken to the ground by officers who stopped his car in 2019.

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An internal affairs investigation that launched after the lawsuit was filed concluded with a recommendation that Reynolds be fired. Police officers are entitled to challenge a disciplinary recommendation they disagree with in a public trial board.

A panel of three police officers — a captain, a second officer of higher rank and an equal rank officer as the cop on trial — will hear the internal affair’s case for termination. The panel will then decide if firing is the proper recommendation for disciplinary action.

Awad will ultimately make the decision after she receives a a report with a final recommendation from the panel.

Maryland made trial boards public in 2016 but the hearings are not a public body subject to the Open Meetings Act. Personnel records involved in the trial can be protected from public view by the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights.

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Anne Arundel County police opened public access to trial board hearings that year by transmitting video of hearings over a closed-circuit network from headquarters in Millersville to a designated room at the Southern District station.

Although the hearing is open to the public, police department officials denied a request by The Capital under the Maryland Public Information Act to release information on the board, including the names of the participating members or the agenda. That information is a personnel matter exempt from law, police said.

Daniel Jarrells, pictured on the ground, sued Anne Arundel County, its police department and three detectives for a February 2019 encounter in Gambrills. The lawsuit claims the detectives pulled him over for no reason and eventually threw him to the ground and knelt on his neck.
Daniel Jarrells, pictured on the ground, sued Anne Arundel County, its police department and three detectives for a February 2019 encounter in Gambrills. The lawsuit claims the detectives pulled him over for no reason and eventually threw him to the ground and knelt on his neck. (Courtesy Photo)

Anne Arundel County residents rallied in the streets and marched for greater transparency and accountability from police department this summer after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police.

Local organizations, including the United Black Clergy, Anne Arundel County Branch of the NAACP and the Caucus of African American Leaders, raised concern that first-come, first-serve seating for the livestreamed video at two police stations was inconvenient and inaccessible for the public to join the hearing.

Between the original two viewing stations, the combined 76 seats fit more people than the viewing room in Southern District before the coronavirus pandemic, police said. Police expanded the locations and availability for civilian involvement Tuesday by adding three more viewing locations, now allowing a combined 148.

Carl Snowden, longtime civil rights activist and the leader of the Caucus of African American Leaders, applauded Awad’s decision to expand available rooms as a way to build trust with the community by being transparent.

“Police don’t want to leave the public with a notion that they’re not being forthright,” Snowden said. “There’s a lot of public interest in this particular trial. It’s important the public have trust in the process, as well as the outcome.”

When a new date for the hearing is set, it will be streamed at:

  • Western District Police Station Community Room at 8273 Telegraph Road in Odenton. Seating is limited to 32 people.
  • Southern District Station Community Room at 35 Stepneys Lane in Edgewater. Seating is limited to 44 people.
  • Eastern District Police Station Community Room at 204 Pasadena Road in Pasadena. Seating is limited to 26 people.
  • Anne Arundel County Henry L. Hein Building Auditorium at 7480 Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard in Glen Burnie. Seating is limited to 23 people.
  • Heritage Complex Chesapeake Room, 2nd floor at 2664 Riva Road in Annapolis. Seating is limited to 23 people.

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