Lawmakers in Frederick Co. vote to require diversity on police accountability board

A police accountability board in Frederick County, Maryland, will be required to have at least one member who is Black or African American and another who is a first- or second-generation immigrant.

That’s under an amendment passed by the county council setting membership requirements for the county’s police accountability board, which will receive complaints of misconduct against police officers in the county.

“We heard from folks advocating for voices from the Black community, Latino voices, immigrants, but also the LGBTQ community. We know that these are all folks that experience a higher frequency with law enforcement,” Council member Jessica Fitzwater said.

There was “overwhelming feedback,” she added, “to ensure that there would be diverse representation on this board.”

During a public meeting last week, more than two dozen residents provided comments on the police board, with most voicing support for greater diversity on the board.

Frederick is one of many counties across Maryland currently crafting rules for law enforcement review boards.

Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner unveiled in January the initial version of legislation establishing the board to oversee misconduct complaints against the four local law enforcement agencies that operate in the county: the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office; the Frederick City Police Department; the Brunswick Police Department; and the Thurmont Police Department.

The original version of the bill said the board should reflect the racial, gender and cultural diversity “to the extent practicable” but did not require membership by such groups.

The creation of local police boards was mandated by state lawmakers in the Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021.

The Frederick County Council will hold a townhall meeting April 19 for members of the community to comment before the council votes to establish the board.

WTOP’s Jack Moore contributed to this report.

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