Skip Navigation

Image of the Baltimore County Historic Courthouse

COVID-19 Coronavirus Updates and Guidance

The County is taking a number of actions to keep residents safe and minimize the spread of COVID-19. Find status information for County operations and services.

Baltimore County News

Stay informed of what's happening in Baltimore County.
Keyword: police department

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.


Multipronged Approach Focused on Combating Violent Crime Across Baltimore County

County Executive Johnny Olszewski and Police Chief Melissa Hyatt today released a multipronged plan focused on combating violent crime through a series of immediate and upstream interventions.

“Keeping our communities safe is among the most important responsibilities of government. Any increase in violent crime is unacceptable. We refuse to normalize violence in our communities,” Olszewski said. “This plan brings together the Baltimore County Police Department, our law enforcement partners, and all of Baltimore County government to provide both immediate and upstream interventions to enhance the safety of our communities.”

“There is no single factor that causes violent crime, and no single solution. This plan includes innovative and proven strategies that will better equip our officers to prevent and respond to crime in our communities,” Chief Hyatt said.

Baltimore County remains a safe place to live, work and raise a family, but the increase in homicides in 2019 requires a decisive response. The public safety plan was the result of a re-evaluation of crime-fighting tactics and resources.

The plan released today focuses on five key priority areas to reduce violent crime:

1) Improved Data and Analytics: This year, the Baltimore County Police Department (BCoPD) will establish a Real Time Crime Center (RTCC), a physical center where real-time data, human intelligence, and technology are combined to drive effective deployment of resources. The RTCC will be led by experienced civilian crime analysts working alongside police officers. The RTCC will be primarily focused on the precincts that experience the greatest amount of gun violence.

2) Focused Crime Prevention: Baltimore County will increase the Baltimore County Police Department’s discretionary crime-fighting resources, enabling law enforcement to increase targeted crime prevention initiatives in “hot-spots” and at key times of activity. Coordination between the RTCC and the existing Comstat process will improve law enforcement’s ability to identify the small number of violent offenders in our communities and deploy strategies to prevent violence and victimization.

3) Attract and Retain Talent: Baltimore County will continue to invest in strategies to attract and retain high quality police officers. BCoPD recently reduced the number of sworn vacancies significantly, but attrition and retirements continue. Baltimore County will implement a pilot program for “take-home vehicles” this year, invest more in additional local recruitment efforts, implement foreign language proficiency stipends and referral bonuses, and conduct a comprehensive review of our hiring process.

4) Innovative Strategies: Baltimore County will continue to embrace proven violence reduction strategies to improve supervision and accountability. Last year, BCoPD expanded the number of area sectors from two to three, each led by a Major, allowing area commanders to more effectively focus resources. The Department also established a permanently-assigned Night Commander to provide further supervision and leadership overnight.

This year, Baltimore County will identify and implement proven violence reduction strategies, including seeking public and private resources to establish an Office of Public Safety to coordinate innovative violence reduction strategies and to convene stakeholders.

5) Strong Partnerships: Public safety has regional implications and requires regional solutions. Last year, Baltimore County stepped up to play a leading role in the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) with other local, state, and federal partners and continues to coordinate with the State’s Attorney’s Office on building and prosecuting high quality cases, particularly for violent gun crimes.

This year, Baltimore County is increasing coordination and information sharing with the Baltimore Police Department about regional crime concerns and areas around the City/County border. Baltimore County is also working with the State and our Delegation to expand successful strategies such as the Warrant Apprehension Task Force (WATF) and the Regional Auto Theft Task Force (RATT). We have also increased strategic collaboration with the State Division of Parole and Probation, including through joint supervision efforts and having P&P agents participate in Comstat.

In addition to these interventions, Baltimore County will continue to support additional upstream interventions in order to prevent violence from occurring in the first place, including ongoing commitment to investment in education, recreational opportunities, and strategies to grow youth summer employment, and proactive community engagement.


Invites input from community, police officers and key stakeholders

County Executive Johnny Olszewski announced today that the County has initiated a national search for a new Police Chief to succeed Chief Terrence B. Sheridan, and that he anticipates having a new chief in place no later than June 2019. Chief Sheridan will continue in his current role while the search is conducted, and has announced that he plans to retire in June.

“Chief Sheridan has set the bar high for his successor, and we are confident that our thorough search process will identify a chief who possesses the qualities our communities want to see in the next leader of Baltimore County’s law enforcement efforts," Olszewski said.

The County will conduct the search process, and is not contracting with any search firms or police associations for assistance. Internal and external candidates to Baltimore County Police Department (BCoPD) are encouraged to apply.

Multiple Opportunities Available for Feedback from Community Stakeholders

There will be several opportunities for community members and stakeholders to provide input into the selection process. There will be two Public Safety Community Forums held in early 2019, and residents may submit written comments via email to policechiefsearch@baltimorecountymd.gov. Police officers and advocates will also have multiple opportunities to participate in the selection process.

Details of the process, including the composition of the interview panel, are included in the process summary below:

Baltimore County Police Chief Search Process

Summary:

The Administration of County Executive John Olszewski is conducting a national search for a new chief to lead the Baltimore County Police Department (BCoPD). The chief will succeed Chief Terrence Sheridan, who will remain in his current capacity while the search is conducted. The Olszewski Administration anticipates having a new chief in place by no later than June 2019.

The job posting is publicly available on Baltimore County’s jobs website –    http://agency.governmentjobs.com/baltimorecounty/default.cfm – and numerous other web-based job search sites. The deadline for applications is January 15, 2019.

The job posting is also available on national law enforcement organization websites, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Police Executive Research Forum, and the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers.

The County is conducting its own search process, and is not contracting with any search firms or police associations to assist in the search. Internal and external candidates to BCoPD are encouraged to apply.

There will be several opportunities for County residents to provide input into the process. County Executive Olszewski is seeking input on what qualities and characteristics County residents would like to see in a police chief.

There are two ways for residents to provide input: 1) At two Public Safety Community Forums in early 2019, one in Northeast Baltimore County and one in Northwest Baltimore County, and 2) Through written comment submitted via email to policechiefsearch@baltimorecountymd.gov. The exact dates of the Public Safety Community Forums will be posted online in early January.

The Administration is also seeking input from the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #4, the Blue Guardians, the Baltimore County Association of Women Police, and rank and file police officers. County Executive Olszewski will separately meet with leadership from the various police officer associations to gather their input into the Chief selection process.

County Executive Olszewski will also conduct police officer town hall meetings to solicit input from BCoPD commanders and officers.

Olszewski Administration representatives will screen all applications and select 5 to 10 candidates to be interviewed by an 8-member interview panel. The interview panel will interview the selected candidates and advise the County Executive on the strength of each candidate. The confidentiality of all applicants will be maintained throughout the process.

The interview panel will consist of the following members:

  1. Two (2) members of the County Executive’s Senior Staff
  2. Baltimore County State’s Attorney or designee
  3. Three (3) Baltimore County resident representatives
  4. Representative of a victim services agency that serves victims in Baltimore County
  5. Representative of the Baltimore County Council

The names of the panelists will be publicly announced in January. The panel will confer with and advise the County Executive on the strength of each candidate. The County Executive will select and interview a number of finalists based on the panel’s feedback.

The nominee will be subject to a comprehensive background investigation and vetting process.

Timeline:

The following timeline is preliminary and subject to change.

December 2018:

  • Post Job Description; begin accepting applications.

January 2019:

  • Application period closes January 15.
  • Applications screened for candidates to be interviewed.
  • County Executive meets with police associations to solicit input.
  • Interview panel is formed and members are announced.

February 2019:

  • Public Safety Community Forums are conducted.
  • Panel interviews scheduled and completed.
  • Police officer town halls are conducted.
  • Panel meets with County Executive to provide feedback on interviewed candidates.

March 2019:

  • County Executive interviews finalists.
  • Finalist is submitted for background investigation and vetting.
  • Finalist is submitted to County Council for confirmation.
  • Confirmation process begins.

April 2019:

  • Confirmation process continues and concludes by end of month.

May 2019 – June 2019:

  • BCoPD leadership transition process begins.
  • New chief is sworn in.

 
 
Revised September 11, 2017