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Keyword: cathy bevins

Bill bans chokeholds, limits use of force, expands de-escalation, and increases transparency to modernize policing in Baltimore County

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, County Councilman Julian Jones, and other members of the Baltimore County Council today announced the Strengthening Modernization, Accountability, Reform, and Transparency (SMART) Policing Act, a comprehensive package of initiatives to improve and modernize policing in Baltimore County while strengthening community relations.

“We’ve heard from the public and the time to act is now. With the SMART Policing Act, Baltimore County will ban chokeholds, strengthen training in de-escalation, ensure there are limits on use of force, and increase transparency,” said Councilman Julian Jones, who will formally introduce the SMART Policing Act at the Baltimore County Council Meeting scheduled for tonight, September 8. “I value and respect the great men and women of the Baltimore County Police Department, and this commonsense bill will help ensure they receive the right training and policies to serve and protect every member of every community.”

“We are living in a moment that demands action, and I am proud to join Councilman Jones and his colleagues in support of the SMART Policing Act to strengthen accountability and promote more equitable policing for all,” said Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski. “We announced unprecedented reforms in June, which began the process of improving transparency and strengthening relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Today, we’re coming together united in Baltimore County’s next step forward in the ongoing fight for equal justice.”

The SMART Policing Act:

  • Modernizes Policing Tactics by:

    • Banning the use of all neck restraints, including chokeholds, unless a person’s life is in immediate jeopardy.

    • Requiring a policy specifying that officers render aid or call for medical care for any individual in police custody who has an obvious injury or complaint of injury.

    • Requiring the Baltimore County Police Department to introduce policy affirming the sanctity of life and the dignity and value of all persons.

  • Enhances and Enshrines Reforms on Use of Force by:

    • Requiring the Department to introduce policies to limit the use of force.

    • Requiring the Department to introduce policy obligating officers to intervene to stop fellow officers from using excessive force and report uses of force.

    • Providing protections to prohibit retaliation against those who report misconduct.

    • Requiring the Department to implement an early intervention system to provide officers at-risk of engaging in the use of excessive force with additional training or other behavioral interventions.

  • Improves Training and Accountability by:

    • Barring individuals with prior disciplinary records in other jurisdictions or agencies from serving as a Baltimore County Police Officer.

    • Requiring annual training in de-escalation, implicit bias, and the use of force.

  • Expands Transparency by:

    • Authorizing the Chief of Police to select up to two members of the public to serve on a police hearing board. Due to state law, final approval of the membership is subject to collective bargaining.

    • Requiring collection and public access to use of force data and police involved shootings.

“This is a critical time and we have a responsibility to do whatever we can to expand community based policing, promote crime reduction, and build public trust across Baltimore County. The SMART Policing Act will make an already strong police department even stronger,” said County Council Chair Cathy Bevins.

"I would like to thank all those who came together to support this legislation that continues robust law enforcement, in a smart manner that is sensitive to all our communities," said Councilman David Marks.

“Like so many, I’ve been inspired by the advocacy of our young people in calling for change. This important piece of legislation reaffirms our commitment to them by strengthening community relations for this generation — and for future generations,” said Councilman Izzy Patoka.

“The Baltimore County Police Department is already taking important steps designed to strengthen and assist our Department and our officers. This legislation will help ensure these actions are codified in law and protected for years to come. It is so important that our Police and communities continue to work together for the benefit of all,” said Councilman Wade Kach.

“I’m grateful for the work the brave men and women of the Baltimore County Police Department do each and every day to protect our residents and am proud of the Department’s ongoing work to improve transparency and accountability. I appreciate all those who have added their voices this legislation which will build on those efforts as we continue to work with our state legislators on additional next steps to improve policing in every neighborhood,” said Councilman Tom Quirk.

The SMART Policing Act is the latest effort from Baltimore County to improve accountability and strengthen relations between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.

In June, County Executive Olszewski announced an unprecedented series of executive actions to address systemic challenges in the police department and promote more equitable policing, by:

  • Updating Use of Force policy. The Department has introduced policies that would be codified in law by the SMART Policing Act, including:

    • Affirming the sanctity of life.

    • Providing training in de-escalation, implicit bias, and the use of force.

    • Requiring officers in to intervene to stop fellow officers from using excessive force and report uses of force.

  • Implementing Fair and Impartial Police Training Curriculum for all Department members.

  • Increasing transparency of complaint, use of force and traffic stop data. In the coming weeks, Baltimore County will release public dashboards displaying data on the complaints, instances of uses of force, and traffic stop data.

  • Supporting state legislation to amend the MPIA to increase transparency related to discipline cases.

  • Conducting independent analysis and review of Department hiring and recruitment practices.

  • Expanding the scope and duration of Equitable Policing Workgroup.

The SMART Policing Act will be officially introduced during the County Council session held on Tuesday, September 8, 2020.


Action Will Preserve 23 Acres of Developable Land and Protect Local Waterways

Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler and 6th District Councilwoman Cathy Bevins announced the County’s plans to preserve a significant parcel of environmentally sensitive land in Middle River to prevent development, thereby protecting water quality for local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay.

The County plans to acquire 23 acres, located on the southwest corner of Bengie’s Road and Bourque Avenue, which is less than a mile from Dark Head Creek and Middle River, and is immediately adjacent to another 28 acres of open space owned by the State of Maryland. Program Open Space acquisition funds will be applied to reimburse the full $100,000 purchase price.

“Preserving rural lands is one of the most effective ways to protect the drinking water supplies for 2.6 million people in the Baltimore region, as well as the water quality of our streams and rivers that flow to the Chesapeake," Mohler said..

"I am always looking for sites around the district for Project Open Space,” said Bevins. “I am thankful for the administration for purchasing this land. This is the latest in a long list of ways we have worked to improve the environment here in Middle River. From dredging the Bird River to preserving open space, I have worked hard to protect and improve the environment.” 

The property is zoned for medium-density residential development and has a recorded 20-lot subdivision. By purchasing this property from Windlass Woods, LLC., the County is guaranteeing its ability to serve as a filter for stormwater, protecting the water quality of Middle River and the Chesapeake Bay. It will be preserved as a forested refuge for wildlife, while offering scenic views in a growing area of the County, near the Baltimore Crossroads mixed-use development.


Officials Advise Residents to Plan for Possible Flooding and Power Outages


Although the current track of Hurricane Florence appears to be headed far south of our area, Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler and his top public safety and public health team gathered at Bowleys Quarters Volunteer Fire Rescue and Marine this morning to advise residents to stay alert to possible changes and prepare in case of localized coastal and inland flooding or power outages from downed trees. The storm is expected to stall and produce heavy rains, which could lead to some inland and coastal flooding throughout the south and possibly in the Mid-Atlantic region.

“The Memorial Day weekend flooding in Catonsville, Ellicott City, Oella and Turner Station was an unwelcome reminder of our vulnerability, and that it doesn’t take a direct hit from a hurricane to ruin homes and businesses and cause prolonged power outages and possible loss of life,” Mohler said.

Mohler reminded residents to watch the County’s social media channels for storm-related updates. “Providing accurate, timely information to our citizens during an emergency is a top priority for us,” he said. “During storms and other emergencies, we push out frequent updates via Twitter @BaltCoemergency and on our Baltimore County Fire Department Facebook page.” Baltimore County emergency managers will continue to receive regular updates throughout this weather event and will provide updates on social media as needed.

“Living in eastern Baltimore County and along the waterfront myself, I am particularly grateful to all of our career and volunteer fire service, police officers and public works staff who stand ready to jump into action if necessary to protect people if this storm should cause problems,” said 6th District County Councilwoman Cathy Bevins.

Fire and Public Works Crews are Prepared and Ready to Respond

The Baltimore County Fire Department and the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management continue monitoring the storm and preparing to respond as needed. These preparations include:

  • Inspecting swiftwater and high-water rescue equipment; pumps and other apparatus.
  • Reviewing staffing and operational plans.
  • Preparing to open and staff the Emergency Operations Center, in case this becomes an emergency requiring a coordinated, multi-agency response.
  • Contacting our mutual aid partners in case we need additional resources.
  • Regular updates with National Weather Service regarding the forecast.

The Baltimore County Department of Public Works (DPW) has placed special emphasis this week on checking their equipment and clearing storm drain inlets to help reduce flooding potential. DPW warns that the saturated ground from recent rainy weather means that trees can be vulnerable to toppling from lighter winds than usual. County tree crews and contractors are ready to clear trees that may fall into roadways and the public right of way.

DPW asks residents to help by reporting any problems that may occur including blocked inlets and downed trees to the Bureau of Highways using the BaltCoGo mobile app. The app is offered free of charge to Android and iPhone users and may be downloaded from their respective app stores. Residents may also call the Bureau of Highways at 410-887-3560.

Flooded basement issues can be reported to 911, so they can be evaluated for fire risks on a case by case basis. The County asks homeowners take steps to prevent problems, or reduce their impact, by clearing downspouts and basement stairwells.

Preparation is Key for Residents

Every household should prepare for this and other possible weather emergencies, considering how thay will manage if the power goes out for an extended period. Steps to take now:

  • Locate and purchase supplies. You need non-perishable food, a manual can opener, medications, supplies for infants and vulnerable adults, pet supplies, flashlights/batteries and a battery-powered radio.
  • Buy or store extra water -- at least a gallon per person, per day, plus extra for pets.
  • Fully charge all your electric devices. If power goes out, use them sparingly to make them last as long as possible.
  • Get cash. ATMs will not work during a power outage.
  • Secure boats and outdoor furniture.
  • Plan where you will evacuate if you live in a flood-prone area and need to move to higher ground.
  • Assist vulnerable family and neighbors with storm preparations. This is critical; many vulnerable people, including older people cannot prepare by themselves.
  • Stay informed about the track of this storm. Follow weather forecasts and our social media posts, @BaltCoEmergency on Twitter and @BaltCoFire on Facebook.

 
 
Revised September 11, 2017