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Prince George’s County Council voted 10-1 on Tuesday to implement a police accountability board in order to provide a more transparent process for reviewing alleged police misconduct.
Some duties of the 11-member board include holding quarterly meetings with law enforcement leaders, reviewing disciplinary outcomes from complaints filed by residents and officers within a county or municipal police department and submitting an annual report to the county executive and council.
“This is a fresh bill. It is not perfect but it’s something that will lead us in the right direction,” said Council member Johnathan Medlock (D-District 6) of District Heights. “I think it is a good start. Let us get from good to better to best at some point in time.”
The accountability board will also appoint residents to serve on an administrative charging committee and a local trial board.
The administrative charging committee will assess police complaints and offer recommendations if a police officer should be administratively charged. If an officer challenges through a formal grievance, then that person goes before a three-member trial board.
Council voted unanimously to abolish the county’s Citizen Complaint Oversight Panel (CCOP) which reviewed complaints and had investigatory powers to review them independently from the police’s Internal Affairs division.
Residents and criminal justice advocates said some duties of the CCOP could’ve been morphed with the accountability board.
Council approved a 2023 fiscal year budget last month that includes funding both boards at $1.4 million.
Nearly $500,000 for the police accountability board to employ three-full time employees, stipends for board members, legal fees and operating and administrative costs.
Approximately $921,100 for an administrative charging committee pays for six full-time workers, stipends for the five committee members who will assess police complaints filed by the public.
Council member Edward Burroughs III (D-District 8) of Camp Springs voted against the measure.
Council member Todd Turner (D-District 5) of Bowie reiterated that the county and 23 other jurisdictions in Maryland are required to pass these police-related measures based on comprehensive legislation passed last year by the General Assembly.
“We got into a place through compromise … with my colleagues on this bill and our staff,” he said. “We know this issue is going to be brought up again in the General Assembly.”
Yanet Amanuel, public policy director with the ACLU of Maryland, said there wasn’t enough compromise.
For instance, the council agreed it could appoint five members to the accountability board and the county executive another five and the chair. Some residents have argued they didn’t want the county executive to choose any members.
“That is what the state law requires [for] the local governing body to select the members,” Amanuel said. “We are going to continue to monitor the implementation of the board and members of the board.”