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Bel Air police to sponsor implicit bias training for its officers, others later this summer

Bel Air police to sponsor implicit bias training for its officers, others later this summer
Timothy Ailsworth, front row left, of Local Government Insurance Trust, presents a check for $1,500 to Bel Air Police Chief Charles Moore. Behind them are Commissioners Philip Einhorn, Patrick Richards, Susan Burdette, Brendan Hopkins and Amy Chmielewski. (Courtesy Michael Krantz)

Bel Air Police Department will train its officers and any others in Harford County who are interested in implicit bias later this summer.

“Implicit bias is unconscious bias we all have,” Bel Air Police Chief Charles Moore said at Monday’s Bel Air Board of Town Commissioners meeting. “If exhibited or displayed by a public servant or not kept in check by a public servant, a police officer, it can result in discriminatory action.”

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The training, which will be done Aug. 15 is being paid for through a grant from Local Government Insurance Trust.

Timothy Ainsworth, executive director of LGIT, presented a $1,500 grant to Moore Monday to be used for the training.

The training will be held at the Bel Air Armory and extended to Bel Air’s allied agencies — the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, Maryland State Police and Aberdeen and Havre de Grace police departments.

“It will undoubtedly, unquestionably help us recognize, acknowledge and compensate for those implicit biases we have,” Moore said.

The Bel Air Police Department came under fire two years ago when a Bel Air woman said she was questioned by an officer about her immigration status.

The woman, born in India and a naturalized United States citizen, brought it to the town commissioners’ attention because she felt the question of whether she was in the United States legally violated her civil rights.

After the uproar over that incident, Moore said his officers would undergo sensitivity training and the incident would be used as a learning experience for his officers.

One of the primary goals of LGIT is “to help small, midsize agencies — towns like ours — meet, exceed and fulfill its management needs,” Moore said. “This grant is an example of LGIT fulfilling its mission.”

Gun violence awareness

In other business, commissioners presented a proclamation to members of the Maryland chapter of Moms Demand Action, a group devoted to preventing gun violence.

The proclamation declares the first Friday in June — June 7 this year — as National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

“We support your efforts to prevent gun violence and honor and value human lives,” Mayor Susan Burdette said.

The town introduced its strategic plan for Fiscal Years 2020-2024, a plan that’s updated every five years and helps with implementation of the town’s comprehensive plan, Planning Director Kevin Small said.

The last strategic plan contained several sustainability objectives, 85 percent of which were completed, Small said.

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The new plan, effective July 1, includes resilience and vitality, “which is concentrating on economic development and preparedness for emergencies and disasters,” he said.

The town also introduced a resolution that would increase fees in town, including the utility locator fee to $35 per connection, per inspection, and the county system development fee, which would be increasing from $8,178 to $8,669, Director of Administration Michael Krantz said.

The latter fee is collected by the town on behalf of Haford County Government.

Brigitte Grubb was unanimously reappointed to the Cultural Arts Commission.

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