Howard County to establish police oversight board

Howard County, Maryland, wants to establish an independent oversight board that will receive complaints regarding police misconduct.

County Executive Calvin Ball filed papers that will create the Police Accountability Board, which will work with Howard County police and the sheriff’s office to not only receive the complaints from members of the public, but also to review the outcomes of disciplinary matters, a county news release Thursday said.

“This Board is an important tool to engage our residents in matters of policing and adds another layer of accountability,” Ball said in a statement.

The board will be made up of five voting members appointed by the county executive and confirmed by the council, and two non-voting members assigned by the police chief and the sheriff. The appointed members must be a Howard County resident who is at least 25 years old and have some familiarity with criminal justice, government agencies or community service organizations.

Howard County police Chief Lisa Myers said that she welcomed the establishment of the board.

“We welcome an independent board to observe first-hand the high standards we hold for every officer and share with us if there are any situations in which they believe we are not living up to those principles,” Myers said in a statement.

Sheriff Marcus Harris said the board will help build a strong relationship between the community and his office by “holding our deputies responsible and providing the level of transparency that the community deserves.”

The board will hold quarterly meetings and appoint members to Charging Committees and Trial Boards. It will submit an annual report to the county that identifies trends in disciplinary action against law enforcement personnel and make policy recommendations to improve police accountability.

The board is expected to begin its duties in July 2022.

Ball’s efforts to ensure police accountability also includes funding for body cameras, which was in included in the county’s 2022 budget proposal.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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