Baltimore County is taking steps to create a police accountability board that would receive complaints of officer misconduct and appoint civilian members to trial boards and charging committees.
County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., a Democrat, introduced legislation Monday to create the nine-person board. Each county in Maryland is required to create a local accountability board under statewide police reform laws passed in 2021.
Under Olszewski’s bill, the county executive would appoint one member from each of the county’s seven councilmanic districts and its two at-large members.
The legislation states that the board membership should reflect the county’s “racial, gender, and cultural diversity.” Members must be adult residents of the county and would be subject to criminal background checks.
The county attorney would serve as the board’s legal adviser. Active police officers would not be allowed to serve on the board.
Among the panel’s duties would be to forward misconduct complaints to law enforcement agencies; review the outcomes of disciplinary cases; and produce reports analyzing disciplinary trends and recommend changes to improve police accountability.
Olszewski’s administration is hosting two community input sessions this week. The first is scheduled for Wednesday at the Randallstown Community Center. The second is a virtual meeting Thursday; officials said details will be posted on the county website. Both forums are set for 6:30 to 8 p.m.
As local governments work to put police accountability boards into place as required by the state law, issues including the boards’ powers and membership have been up for debate.
For instance, in Anne Arundel County, where legislation is pending, advocates have complained the administration there did not take residents’ views into account and said the county’s bill is weak.