A member of the Baltimore Police Civilian Review Board quits, citing ‘ineffective’ and ‘opaque’ system

A Baltimore Police Civilian Review Board member resigned Monday, citing the panel’s lack of independence, including frustrations that the panel did not receive full and timely police misconduct reports that it had been tasked to investigate.

Jillian Aldebron, who represented the Southeast District, wrote in a resignation letter released Monday that the city has stifled the board to the point that its already limited powers are hindered even further. She called the process “ineffective” and “opaque," and in desperate need of reform.


“Far more consequential than my resignation, however, is the larger question of how to achieve greater police accountability, something that Baltimore City residents have long demanded and most desperately need and deserve,” she wrote.

Her complaints are the latest to come from the board and other supporters of police reform in Baltimore, who have long argued that the Civilian Review Board lacks the independence and power necessary to address police misconduct.


Baltimore’s Civilian Review Board receives complaints about officers from civilians and conducts investigations that are separate from the police department’s internal affairs division. The board can make recommendations about discipline, but the police commissioner has final say.

Even though the board is independent, its staff, including investigators, is housed within the Office of Equity and Civil Rights, which Aldebron said does not allow the board to act independently.

"This has created yet another barrier we have to get through,” Aldebron said in an interview Monday.

Rather than give the board autonomy to investigate cases thoroughly, Aldebron said, the city has interfered so much that it has reduced the board to mere “jurors."

For example, Abdebron’s letter said that the review board discovered “only recently — and by chance ― the [Office of Equity and Civil Rights] was routinely withholding completed investigations from [review board] members, some 28 of which had expired.”

The cases had expired because they had not been adjudicated within a year, as required by the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights.

Aldebron said the Office of Equity and Civil Rights staff — at the direction of the city law department — “was prohibiting CRB members from adjudicating — or even seeing ― investigations until a BPD report was received,” Aldebron said.

Mel Currie, who represents the Southwest District and was elected the board’s chair in January, said the practice was stopped after board members brought the issue to staff. Currie said the board members, including himself, largely agreed with Aldebron’s broader concerns about the major reforms that are needed to give the oversight board more power and independence.

“We all want the same things she wanted," he said. “I agree with Jillian with just about every point she made since she became a member of the board.”

But Currie said Aldebron’s behavior toward staff and some board members became unmanageable.

“This is a person who would curse in meetings with staff and who shoved papers at staff during a meeting with staff," said Kobi Little, president of the local branch of NAACP, which has a permanent seat on the board.

Little has been representing the NAACP at review board meetings since 2018. He said that if Aldebron had not resigned, the board would have petitioned the mayor to have her removed.


In her letter, Aldebron acknowledged that some of her fellow board members felt she was too confrontational in her approach to the problem.

But she added, “most, if not all, agree with my substantive position on the matter.”

In addition to her work on the board, Aldebron has been studying its work, collecting data on civilian oversight of police misconduct as lead researcher of a study funded by the National Institute of Justice through the Howard University Center for Urban Progress.

George Buntin, the review board’s former chair, declined to comment Monday. A spokesman for the Office of Equity and Civil Rights, which includes the Civilian Review Board, deferred comment to the mayor’s office.

Lester Davis, a spokesman for Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, who appoints board members, said Monday night that “we respect the independence of the Civilian Review Board." He deferred additional questions to the board.

Since 2018, review board members have had a contentious relationship with city officials, notably when the city solicitor’s office tried to force them to sign confidentiality agreements. At the time, the board said City Solicitor Andre Davis directed the police department to withhold internal affairs files from board members unless they agreed to sign confidentiality agreements.

The members refused and filed a civil lawsuit, which was later withdrawn. Davis agreed to allow members to view the files, but warned that they would be liable for any consequences if the information leaked.

Deputy City Solicitor Dana Moore did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

The same year, a panel created under the Baltimore Police consent decree with the federal government issued a report that called for disbanding the current Civilian Review Board and replacing it with a stronger, fully independent oversight body. The new entity would require legislative changes to the Maryland Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights.

The changes haven’t taken place.

"There are all sorts of things that need to be changed that are out of our control,” including legislative reforms, Currie said.

Earlier versions of this story misidentified George Buntin’s title. He is no longer the chair of the Civilian Review Board. The Sun regrets the error.

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