November 01, 2019 Baltimore County
Workgroup to Offer Recommendations, Bring Greater Transparency and Accountability to Law Enforcement
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski today issued an executive order announcing the formation of the Baltimore County Workgroup on Equitable Policing, which will examine policing policies and practices and make recommendations for ensuring equitable policing in Baltimore County.
The Baltimore County Police Department collects and reports data related to traffic stops annually to the Maryland Statistical Analysis Center (MSAC). A review of 2018 data (PDF) shows that African-American individuals were issued citations at a rate higher than other individuals. While the data does not necessarily indicate bias or discrimination, the County Executive and Police Chief Melissa Hyatt believe the data merit thorough examination.
The first-of-its-kind workgroup will examine current policies, practices, and training related to equitable policing in Baltimore County and offer recommendations to ensure equitable policing practices and bring greater transparency and accountability to law enforcement.
"Our law enforcement officers work tirelessly day in and day out to keep our communities safe, and I am grateful for their dedicated service. We also have a moral obligation to ensure accountable, equitable, and just law enforcement that serves all residents," said County Executive Johnny Olszewski. "Today we are taking steps to provide a closer look at our data, promote fairness, improve accountability and build a safer, stronger county."
"This work group is an opportunity for us to increase communication and transparency in Baltimore County. Every day and every night our officers are out in our communities patrolling in an effort to keep everyone safe," said Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt. "We owe it to the members of our community to ensure that we are utilizing our resources in the most effective way. I look forward to being a part of this important discussion."
Responsibilities of the Workgroup
The newly announced workgroup will:
- Review and analyze data provided to the Maryland Statistical Analysis Center;
- Collect and analyze additional data from the Baltimore County Police Department;
- Analyze benchmarking data from other political subdivisions and comparable jurisdictions across the country;
- Review current written orders and manuals relevant to traffic and person stops;
- Meet with command staff and officers in the Police Department to examine how current policing practices and principles may be influencing the data;
- Review training and supervision that Police Officers receive with respect to implicit bias in policing; and
- Review national best practices with respect to equitable policing, traffic and person stop practices and policies, training and supervision.
Chaired by Baltimore County's newly-named Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Troy Williams, the workgroup consists of a diverse array of talented and knowledgeable individuals, including:
- Crystal Francis, Community Representative
- Tony Fugett, Baltimore County NAACP
- Councilman Julian Jones, Baltimore County Council, District 4
- Omer Reshid, Student Member of the Baltimore County Board of Education, Youth Representative
- Colonel Robert McCullough, Baltimore County Police Department
- Anthony Russell, President, Blue Guardians
- Scott Shellenberger, State's Attorney
- John Skinner, Professor of Criminal Justice, Towson University
- Delegate Charles Sydnor
- Cole Weston, Fraternal Order of Police
- Chief Melissa Hyatt, Baltimore County Police Department (ex-officio)
- Drew Vetter, Baltimore County Deputy Administrative Officer (ex-officio)
"I am honored to help lead this work group and committed to taking swift action to carry out the County Executive's charge to review the data and identify actionable recommendations that will ensure equitable policing across Baltimore County," said Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Troy Williams.
The Baltimore County Workgroup on Equitable Policing will host two public input sessions to receive public comment. Dates and times for these public input sessions will be forthcoming.
The Workgroup will issue a draft report and recommendations no later than July 2020, which shall be posted online for public comment. Following public input, the Workgroup will issue a final report no later than August 2020.
"Communities are safest when police and residents can trust each other," Delegate Charles Sydnor said. "I'm thankful County Executive Olszewski is leading on this issue and convening this workgroup to thoroughly investigate these concerns and to affirm that trust."
"We have a responsibility to do whatever we can to ensure Baltimore County is safe for all of our residents," Councilman Jones said. "I'm looking forward to serving on this workgroup and working collaboratively and ensure equitable policing in every community across Baltimore County."
The full text of Executive Order 2019-001 (Baltimore County Workgroup on Equitable Policing) is available for review.