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Carroll County Times
Carroll County News

Carroll commissioners create police accountability board; no one with pending criminal charge or conviction may be appointed

Carroll County commissioners voted 3-1 Thursday to adopt a resolution creating a police accountability board. The resolution specifies that members shall not have a criminal charge pending or have been convicted of a crime in federal or state court.

Commissioner President Ed Rothstein voted against the measure because he opposed that restriction.

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“I still believe we should not hamstring ourselves and have the ability ... to select appropriately for this group,” said Rothstein, a District 5 Republican.

Commissioner Eric Bouchat, a Republican who represents District 4, was absent from the meeting.

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Though Carroll County’s sheriff and commissioners have all said they don’t believe the county needs a police accountability board, they are required by the state to create one by July 1.

The Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 was enacted by the General Assembly to bring changes to law enforcement throughout the state. Among other requirements, the legislation states that Baltimore City and every Maryland county must form a police accountability board, which will make policy recommendations, review outcomes of disciplinary matters considered by charging committees, and require regular reports on disciplinary processes.

Commissioners will pick five county residents to serve on the accountability board. Up to two members may be former law enforcement officers who retired in good standing and two members will be selected from a list of names from the county chapter of the Maryland Municipal League.

The county must also create an administrative charging committee, which will be responsible for reviewing police internal investigations regarding alleged officer misconduct and determining whether an administrative charge is appropriate. If a charge is appropriate, the committee will schedule a public hearing and make a recommendation.

The chairperson of the police accountability board will serve as a member of the administrative charging committee. Commissioners will appoint two civilian members to that committee and the police accountability board will appoint two more civilian members by majority vote.

Tim Burke, county attorney, referring to the accountability board resolution, said members shall not have a criminal charge pending or have been convicted, in federal or state court, of a crime punishable by imprisonment exceeding one year and received a prison sentence of more than one year, unless pardoned.

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“That’s not required by the state law … it’s up to the board whether they want to include it or not,” he said. “A lot of other counties have it in their resolutions.”

Burke reminded commissioners they had a public hearing over two weeks ago, where they debated whether it would be appropriate to allow anyone convicted of a crime to serve on the board or the charging committee.

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“I am completely against having anyone on any of these boards that has ever had a conviction at all,” Commissioner Stephen Wantz, a Republican representing District 1, said. “I’m still not clear as to why we are [establishing this board] at all. … In my mind, to have someone who has been convicted to potentially sit on these boards and have the ability to judge our folks in blue, I can’t fathom that.”

Commissioner Richard Weaver, a District 2 Republican, agreed with Wantz.

“This is about a person’s livelihood,” he said. “People on this board need to have impeccable backgrounds as far as I’m concerned.

Commissioner Dennis Frazier, a Republican representing District 3, said he finds the restriction on membership arbitrary since commissioners will have the final say on who is selected.

“We’re going to have trouble finding people for these boards, I know that, but there are a ton of people out there who have had clean, impeccable lives that should be serving on the boards,” Wantz said.


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