Silver Spring, MD – The Silver Spring Justice Coalition (SSJC) and the ACLU of Maryland demand that the County Executive withdraw his unacceptable bill to establish police discipline boards mandated under Maryland’s new state law (HB 670) and joins with 18 other community organizations in calling for the Executive and the Council to solicit public input before drafting a new bill.
The Maryland Police Accountability Act requires every County to create a Police Accountability Board (PAB), an Administrative Charging Committee, and a Trial Board to oversee policing discipline. The purpose of the law was to increase police accountability in Maryland and to dramatically increase community participation in the disciplinary process.
In October, SSJC wrote to the County Executive and the County Council asking for public input into the drafting of enabling legislation for the new boards. Not only was this letter ignored, but instead, with no notice or any community input, the County Executive drafted a bill to be introduced to the County Council on Tuesday, December 14. The Executive’s bill undermines the legislative intent and purpose of the new state law and shuts the community out of the new disciplinary process by populating the board with members of the law enforcement community, rather than members of the community that is impacted by law enforcement.
SSJC and the ACLU of Maryland call for the County Executive to withdraw his bill, for the Executive and the Council to solicit community input, and for the introduction of a new bill that reflects a new bill that reflects the will of the legislature and the needs of our community, particularly Black and Brown residents most targeted by police. A letter, sent to County leadership last night, signed by SSJC and 18 other community organizations calling for public input before a County bill is introduced can be viewed here.
Quote from Joanna Silver, policy committee co-chair, Silver Spring Justice Coalition: “SSJC wrote to the County Executive and the Council in October asking for public input before a bill was drafted. Because there was no community input, the bill perpetuates law enforcement’s control of police discipline, excluding the communities most impacted by policing. The community needs more than a few minutes at a Council hearing to fix this fatally flawed bill.”
Quote from Yanet Amanuel, interim public policy director, ACLU of Maryland: “The state law was designed to create an independent board populated by the community. Instead this bill does not call for or fund independent counsel or an independent staff to engage in research, independent analysis, or community participation or outreach. Because the bill is expedited, it may not receive the necessary racial equity and social justice impact assessment,and that is unacceptable.”
The Silver Spring Justice Coalition is a coalition of grassroots community organizations, residents of Montgomery County, and neighbors of Robert White, an unarmed Black man killed on June 11, 2018 by a Montgomery County police officer. SSJC envisions a county where harm by police is eliminated, while community and individuals are empowered. Silver Spring Justice Coalition is on Facebook and Twitter (@SilverCoalition) and email (email@example.com).
The ACLU of Maryland exists to empower Marylanders to exercise their rights so that the law values and uplifts their humanity. Our vision is for Maryland’s people to be united in affirming and exercising their rights in order to address inequities and fulfill the country’s unrealized promise of justice and freedom for all.