Frederick County Council Passes Police Accountability Board Ordinance

It must be up and running by July 1st.

Frederick, Md. (KM) – An ordinance setting up a police accountability board to receive citizen complaints about police misconduct was unanimously approved Tuesday night by the Frederick County Council.

The legislation was sponsored by Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer on behalf of the County Executive.  She  said the county was moving on ” a condensed scheduled” to get this measure adopted by May 1st. She noted it will take some time to appoint members to the board which must be in place by July 1st, 2022.

The ordinance sets up an 11-member panel with one seat reserved for an African-American or Black citizen, and another for a 1st- or 2nd-generation immigrant. “From that membership, there would be at least two members on this board who would be representatives of the communities that we know, according to the data that we have, these communities have had the most interaction with police based on their percentage of the population of County; and most of those interactions have not ended well,” she said.

The ordinance says “To the maximum extend practicable, the membership of the board shall reflect the racial, gender and cultural diversity of the county as well as representation from communities that experience a higher frequency of interactions with law enforcement, including but not limited to people who are Black/African-American, Latino, and lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer (LGBTQ), first or second generation immigrants, people with disabilities, people with behavioral health concerns, and people who have experienced homelessness.”

No persons who are active police officers or have immediate family members who are police officers can serve on the board. But local law enforcement agencies can appoint liaisons to the board.

There are two seats reserved for representatives from the City of Frederick, and one each from the City of Brunswick and the Town of Thurmont. All three communicates have their own police departments.

State law requires counties to set police accountability boards. But Keegan-Ayer says the state could make some changes to the law, and this local ordinance can be amended to accommodate any of those changes.

Councilman Jerry Donald says it’s always a good idea to make revisions to local laws. “It is a smart thing for any legislative body to revisit it to see how it’s going,” he said. “We designed it this way but this works very well, and we’ll leave that. And this has some problems. That will happen in the future and things will probably change.”

State law requires all counties in Maryland to have police accountability boards

In other action, the Council adopted an amendment to the ordinance which requires three appointees to the board serve a term of one year, and two appointees shall serve two  years. Four appointees, including the chairperson, can serve three-year terms. Members may be reappointed, but cannot serve more than two full consecutive three-year terms.

By Kevin McManus