The many arguments of adding civilians to police oversight boards is basically a cop out by Mayor Catherine Pugh and the Baltimore City Council to handle the situation themselves through the mayor’s chain of command. But should it happen there should be stringent vetting requirements as opposed to putting any Tom, Dick or Harriet on the board (“Civilian oversight, new shifts: What we know about the proposed Baltimore Police contract,” Nov. 5). And the police should be involved in agreeing to a vetting process.
Any civilian who is serving on a police oversight board must be fully qualified to understand the circumstances and training which led to a decision by a police officer for which he is being judged. Judgment cannot be made by emotions alone. Volunteers should be fully vetted before serving on any board and that would include the agreement not to disclose the proceedings of the board to outsiders and be willing sign a non-disclosure agreement and be held liable if they break the agreement.
They should have to accompany police officers on neighborhood patrol to understand the environment they work in as well as attend certain classes on procedure at the police academy. They should understand how the department operates and what is expected of the officers. For Mayor Pugh to make the issue “non-negotiable” in contract negotiations shows her total disrespect for the Police Department and again bending her will to the people who elected her.
You definitely don’t want to go against the populace. Also, to decide this issue without a new police commissioner is ridiculous as he will have to live with it and have some say in the matter. Poor planning by the mayor’s office again! Hope the police union votes it down without vetting agreements. No wonder we can’t get people to join the police department.
Stas Chrzanowski, Baltimore
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