Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski Jr. announced a series of initiatives last month to increase accountability and transparency in the Baltimore County Police Department while also promoting more equitable policing.
Apparently, it wasn’t enough.
Baltimore County Councilman Julian Jones (4th District) introduced a police reform bill last week.
The bill addresses hiring, use-of-force policies, police conduct and bans the use of chokeholds.
(Olszewski’s initiatives also address the use of force policy, hiring and recruitment practices, and police conduct.)
Jones’ bill, 73-20, requires “certain additional training” of police officers; defines and requires “de-escalatory techniques” before an officer may use physical force; defines and limits the use of physical force; prohibits the use of chokeholds; requires an officer to intervene and report when another officer uses unnecessary or excessive physical force; provides for an “early intervention system” for officers related to the use of physical force; and requires certain data to be collected, analyzed, published and made available to certain state and federal law enforcement offices.
It also requires the Chief of Police to appoint members of the public to a certain hearing board.
“I do not support this bill,” Councilman Todd Crandell (7th District) said. “I commend Baltimore County Police on their record, and cannot support a measure which makes an already difficult job even harder.
“We count on our police force to keep us safe, and we should continue to support them and not give into the politics of the moment.”
According to statistics provided by Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 4, the county police department has improved significantly over the last 10 years in several areas considered needing of reform.
The number of arrests has trended downward 36 percent since 2010; over the last 10 years, county police have used force 2,934 times, an average of 283 times a year and less than one incident per day (force was used in about one percent of all arrests).
County officers were involved in shootings 60 times in that 10-year period, which worked out to .00096 percent of all calls for service and .0226 percent of all arrests.
These steady decreases took place despite the county growing in population by four percent over that 10-year period, and calls for service increasing by 24 percent.
A virtual work session for the bill, during which the public can contribute, will be held on July 28. The bill is expected to come up for vote on August 3.