Montgomery Co. Council to introduce bill for police accountability

The Montgomery County Council will be introducing a bill Tuesday to create a police accountability board. The move comes amid increased crime across the county, including a spike in violence in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Montgomery County Council President Gabe Albornoz said the statistics on crime in the county “are sobering.”

Referring to a recent committee briefing with Montgomery County Police, he said, “there has been a 29% increase in homicides from this time last year, there’s been a 136% increase in carjackings, and there’s also been a significant increase in auto thefts.”

Albornoz said the increase in crime is part of a national trend. “The challenges we’re seeing in Montgomery County are not unique to Montgomery County,” he told reporters Monday.

Albornoz said the move to create a police accountability board isn’t an obstacle for law enforcement’s effort to combat crime. “The council stands ready to support efforts to ensure the public safety of all of our residents because we know there is nothing more important,” he said.

The bill, which will be introduced Tuesday, responds to a statewide requirement. As part of legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly, each county must create a police accountability board and an administrative charging committee to handle complaints of police misconduct.

Montgomery County’s measure would create a five-member police accountability board nominated by the county executive and confirmed by the county council. The members would have to be county residents and have experience in:

  • managing or evaluating the management of a law enforcement agency;
  • evaluating citizen complaints against a police officer;
  • or personnel disciplinary proceedings as a manager, employee representative, mediator or arbitrator.

Despite some concerns that greater oversight and regulation of police departments will hinder the work of law enforcement, contributing to the nationwide uptick in violent crime, two local community groups issued a statement Monday afternoon saying the proposed bill does not go far enough.

The Silver Spring Justice Coalition and the ACLU of Maryland called on County Executive Marc Elrich to withdraw the bill and solicit public input before submitting a new measure.

Joanna Silver with the Silver Spring Justice Coalition wrote, “The bill perpetuates law enforcement’s control of police discipline, excluding the communities most impacted by policing.”

Yanet Amanuel with ACLU of Maryland wrote, “This bill does not call for or fund independent counsel or an independent staff to engage in research, independent analysis, or community participation outreach.”

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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