Montgomery Co. bill would create more transparency in police-involved shooting investigations

Montgomery County map(WTOP)

Montgomery County Council member Will Jawando is hoping to strengthen public trust when it comes to policing with a new bill, The Law Enforcement Trust and Transparency Act, also known as the LETT Act.

The goal in the Maryland county is to create more transparency by requiring an outside agency to investigate officer-involved fatal shootings, which would then be followed up by a public report if no charges are filed.

“This is a recommendation from President Obama’s 2015 21st Century Policing Task Force that these investigations should be independent to increase public trust,  and I believe that we can lead here and show how to do that,” said Jawando at Tuesday night’s public hearing.

The bill is in response to the death of Robert White, a Silver Spring man who was fatally shot by police last year.

“The investigation by Howard County officials took over three months, the report was released to the public with less than two pages and offered little explanation for its finding that the officer should not be criminally charged,” said Faith Blackburn with the Montgomery County NAACP chapter.

While the LETT Act did receive unanimous support from the council, Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger expressed concerns, questioning whether a neighboring jurisdiction would have the resources to step in immediately after an incident happens to handle interviews and collect evidence from the scene.

“Unless we can have a rock solid plan in place for the investigation to happen the way it should happen, we need to work on this,” Manger said.

The public safety committee will review the bill March 25.

WTOP’s Melissa Howell reported from Silver Spring, Maryland.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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