Frederick County’s Sheriff Raises Concerns About Police Accountability Board

Sheriff Chuck Jenkins

He says it takes away a department’s disciplinary powers over officers for misconduct.

Frederick, Md. (KM) – Frederick County is required to have its police accountability board in placeĀ  by July 1st. But not everyone is looking forward to it.

During a recent appearance on WFMD”s “Morning News Express,” Ira Redmond, the President of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 102, a union which represents Sheriff’s Deputies, raised this concern. “They’re taking the power to discipline away from the Sheriff, a chief or our command staff and put it with civilians, or people that might not have knowledge of what we do day in and day out,” he says.

Also on that same program, Sheriff Chuck Jenkins added to that comment. “When it comes to the type of complaints, I am never going to hide a complaint, or sweep a complaint under rug or hand something off to another body when we should handle it internally. I’m just not going to do it,” he said. “And my men and women know that I’ve got their backs. They may be disciplined, but they’ll be disciplined fairly.”

Each county in Maryland is required to have a police accountability board in place by July 1st under the Police Accountability Act passed in 2021. The panel will review any complaints about police misconduct and make sure there is transparency and accountability in situations where misconduct has been alleged. The Accountability Boards will appoint civilian members to charging committees and trial boards. Members will also be tasked with  identifying trends and recommending policy  changes when they  believe is necessary.

Redmond hopes the board will approach its job with an open mind. . “We want to make  sure that we’re being treated fairly, and that whoever is on the board doesn’t have that agenda that they’re coming after us. and that’s the whole reason why they’re putting in for the job,” he says. “If you want to hold police accountable for the mistakes that they make, that’s fine as long as it’s done fairly and we’re not being mistreated in the process.”

But Sheriff Jenkins says he holds  out some hope. “I believe that County Executive {Jan} Gardner is gonna do her due diligence and put as fair minded people as she can on there and I’m sure she’s not going to allow people that have some bias one way or the other to be on the board,”: he said. “And I told her and stressed to her months ago that this is the most important thing you will do as County Executive.” Jenkins added that members of the police accountability board will have the livelihoods and careers of law enforcement officers in their hands.

In addition to the Sheriff’s Office, the police accountability board will also review complaints of misconducts against officers with the Frederick, Brunswick and Thurmont Police Departments.

The police accountability board will be composed of 11 members. County officials say it should reflect the racial, gender, and cultural diversity of the county as much as possible. They say it should include representation from those segments of the population which have a higher interaction with police, such as African-Americans, Latino and the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer community. It should also include first- or second-generation immigrants, people with disabilities, behavioral health concerns, and individuals who have experienced homelessness.

Police officers and their immediate family may not serve on the board under state law. The board should not have individuals who have been convicted or, or received probation before judgment or a statutory penalty of more than two years, county officials say.  Each county in Maryland is required to set up a police accountability board.

By Kevin McManus