Legislation Spotlight: Bill 49-21, Establishment of a Police Accountability Board (MoCo)
This week the Montgomery County Council continued their work on Expedited Bill 49-21, which would establish a Police Accountability Board (PAB) and an Administrative Charging Committee (ACC) in the County. The legislation is a direct result of HB670, which was recently enacted in the Maryland General Assembly. HB670 created a new uniform procedure for police accountability and discipline. Its enactment mandated that each governing body of every County in Maryland establish a PAB and an ACC to address police misconduct complaints and allegations by a County police officer filed by a member of the public.
Expedited Bill 49-21 would create a 9-member PAB nominated by the Montgomery County Executive and confirmed by the Council, but the County Executive would have the authority to appoint one or more nonvoting members. The Bill would mandate that at least one voting member resides in a municipality that operates a police department within the jurisdiction of the PAB. All of the PAB and the ACC members must be County residents. The Bill would require each member of the PAB and the ACC to serve a 3-year term of office with term limits after serving two complete terms. The Bill would also require the Executive to stagger the initial terms to ensure that the terms of approximately one-third of the members expire each year.
Expedited Bill 49-21 has had two public hearings where the overwhelming majority of speakers opposed the Bill due to the amendments offered by the Council. Those opposed to the amendment believe Expedited Bill 49-21 would require all of the civilian members of the PAB, and the ACC would have to have policing experience. Some argued that the County Attorney would have a conflict of interest in representing both the County Police Department and the PAB and ACC. Many of the speakers during the second public hearing complained about the lack of community input about the Bill before the County Executive submitted it to the Council
During the last work session of the Public Safety Committee, they amended the Bill to:
Increase the PAB membership to voting members with at least one member residing in a municipality covered by the PAB and permit the Executive to appoint one or more nonvoting members;
clarify that all complaints from the public must be investigated and reported to the ACC;
require funding for training of PAB and ACC members from the police and outside organizations; and
authorize the Council to remove a member for failure to complete required training.
Other changes at the most recent session included the Council deleting a “violation of law” as one of the reasons for the removal of a member. As well as the approval of an amendment at the 1st work session that replaces the professional experience required for a member with a member must “be able to demonstrate through professional or lived experience the ability to balance effective oversight, perform objective analysis of an investigation report, and practice procedural fairness.”
The complete work session report can be read here. CLPA will continue to track this Bill through the legislative process. If you have any questions or concerns about this legislation, please reach out to Council President Gab Albornoz.