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In Observance of International Human Rights Day, Olszewski Issues Executive Order Fostering Diversity and Equity

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski today issued an Executive Order creating a Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Community Advisory Council and Employee Advisory Council, both aimed at advancing equity and inclusion in Baltimore County and changing the culture of County government to consistently focus on equity in decision-making.

The Executive Order also establishes a Policy Statement on Diversity, Inclusion and Equity that articulates the government’s commitment to applying an equity lens to all its work.

“Baltimore County is a large, diverse jurisdiction, and our communities have complex needs. We have a responsibility to ensure that our government serves our communities in an equitable way, and that we are doing everything in our power to celebrate diversity and advance equal opportunity,” Olszewski said.

Today’s Executive Order comes on Human Rights Day, an international observance commemorating December 10, 1948: the day United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—a milestone document proclaiming the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being. Available in more than 500 languages, it is the most translated document in the world.

Baltimore County’s Diversity

Baltimore County has 847,000 residents—the third largest population in Maryland. Nearly 30 percent of the County’s population is African American, 100,000 residents are foreign-born, and students in the County’s school system speak 97 different languages. Nine percent of the County’s households live below the federal poverty line, and 29 percent fall under the Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE), threshold, according to the United Way. Given Baltimore County’s diversity, Olszewski’s transition team identified a need to take steps to advance equity and inclusion.

Earlier this year, Olszewski included funding in his budget to create an Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and named Troy Williams as the County’s first-ever Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer.

“Advancing the cause of equity and inclusion requires a concerted effort to change the way we think and the way we work, and the steps outlined in today’s executive order are designed to help our government better respond to the needs of our communities,” Williams said.

The Executive Order

The Executive Order outlines a number of steps to advance the cause of equity and inclusion:

  • Articulates a policy statement on Diversity, Inclusion and Equity: Baltimore County government shall advance fair policies and practices by making decisions, providing opportunities and allocating resources and services through a diversity, inclusion and equity lens that ensures engagement, growth and prosperity for all county employees, residents, visitors and stakeholders.
  • Creates a Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Employee Awareness Program in order to ensure all county employees understand the policy statement and the county’s commitment to equitable decision-making.
  • Establishes a Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Employee Advisory Council to advocate for, engage in and respond to issues, concerns and needs of the County workforce as it relates to diversity, inclusion and equity.
  • Establishes a Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Community Advisory Council to advocate for, engage in and respond to issues, concerns and needs of county residents as it relates to diversity, inclusion and equity.

The full text of the Executive Order is provided below:

EXECUTIVE ORDER

BALTIMORE COUNTY DIVERSITY, INCLUSION AND EQUITY: POLICY STATEMENT; EMPLOYEE AWARENESS PROGRAM; EMPLOYEE ADVISORY COUNCIL; AND COMMUNITY ADVISORY COUNCIL

WHEREAS, Baltimore County has 847,000 residents—the third largest population in Maryland; and
WHEREAS, Baltimore County recognizes that diversity is one of the county’s greatest strengths; and
WHEREAS, it is imperative for county government to demonstrate a core commitment to advancing diversity, inclusion and equity practices that give voice to and strengthen all populations and communities; and
WHEREAS, nearly 30 percent of the County’s population is African American, 100,000 residents are foreign-born, and students in the County’s school system speak 97 different languages; and
WHEREAS, nine percent of the County’s households live below the federal poverty line, and 29 percent fall under the Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, or ALICE, threshold; and
WHEREAS, the veteran population density in the County is between four and six percent of Maryland’s total veteran population; and
WHEREAS, 17 percent of County residents are persons over the age of 65; and
WHEREAS, more than seven percent of county residents, under the age of 65, are living with a disability; and
WHEREAS, four percent of the adult population in Maryland identifies as LGBT; and
WHEREAS, Baltimore County is home to over 4,000 immigrant entrepreneurs who contribute to the small business economy; and
WHEREAS, Baltimore County government is an economic engine for the region, employing more than 8,000 employees and spending approximately $3.6 billion annually in operating expenses; and
WHEREAS, it is critically important that all county employment, procurement and operational activities foster equitable outcomes for all individuals, populations and communities, particularly those that have been traditionally underserved; and
WHEREAS, it is important for every county employee to understand their professional obligation to promulgate polices, provide services and make decisions through an equity lens whenever possible; and
WHEREAS, it is the goal of this Administration to ensure that all county resources, opportunities and services are administered in an equitable manner, that values diversity and inclusion for all county employees, residents, visitors and stakeholders; and
WHEREAS, it is the goal of this Administration to ensure that every county employee is aware of Baltimore County’s policy statement on diversity, inclusion and equity; and
WHEREAS, it is the goal of this Administration to provide employees with the opportunity to take on an active roles in fostering an enterprise-wide culture that acknowledges, values and celebrates diversity, inclusion and equity; and
WHEREAS, it is the goal of this Administration to provide diverse groups of county residents with the opportunity to provide advocacy and counsel to county leadership on issues of diversity, inclusion and equity;
Now, therefore, it is this 10th day of December, 2019, by the County Executive of Baltimore County, Maryland ordered that the Administration shall pursue and implement, the following with regard to diversity, inclusion and equity:

Section I. Policy Statement on Diversity, Inclusion and Equity.

Baltimore County government shall advance fair policies and practices by making decisions, providing opportunities and allocating resources and services through a diversity, inclusion and equity lens that ensures engagement, growth and prosperity for all county employees, residents, visitors and stakeholders.

Section II. Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Employee Awareness Program.

A.  Purpose.
The Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Awareness Program is intended to ensure that every Baltimore County employee is aware of the county’s policy statement regarding diversity, inclusion and equity, while also providing general awareness education.

B. Program Components.

  1. Every current county employee shall annually be provided with a copy of the Baltimore County Policy Statement on Diversity, Inclusion and Equity.
  2. Every current county employee shall annually provide a signed acknowledgement of the Baltimore County Policy Statement on Diversity, Inclusion and Equity.
  3. All of the county’s new employee orientation sessions shall include a presentation that minimally addresses the following topics:
    1. Review and signed acknowledgement of the Baltimore County Policy Statement on Diversity, Inclusion and Equity.
    2. Applying an equity lens to policies, practices and decision-making.
    3. Introduction to cultural competency.
  4. The county may institute additional diversity, inclusion and equity training for all county employees as deemed necessary.

Section III. Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Employee Advisory Council.

A. Purpose.
The Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Employee Advisory Council (hereinafter, “The Employee Council”) shall advocate for, engage in and respond to issues, concerns and needs of the workforce as it relates to diversity, inclusion and equity across government. The Employee Council’s responsibilities shall include:

  1. Providing advisement to, and working collaboratively with, the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer on specific workforce diversity, inclusion and equity issues, to include: employee training, customer service delivery, public policy analysis and impacts, workplace accommodations and other relevant topics.
  2. Assisting in the planning of workplace initiatives and/or events designed to foster a culture that acknowledges, advances and celebrates diversity, inclusion and equity across the enterprise.

B.  Membership.
The Employee Council shall consist of at least 12 and not more than 20 voting members. The voting members shall consist of current Baltimore County employees, drawn from a cross-section of professional classifications, departments and agencies. The Employee Council will seek to maintain diversity of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation/identity, national origin, religion, physical/mental ability and other relevant classifications.

C. Terms.
Each voting member will be appointed by the Baltimore County Executive for a term of one year. An appointed member may be re-appointed for not more than three consecutive one-year terms.

D. Chair.
The Chair of the Employee Council shall be the Baltimore County Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer. The Chair shall have one vote, equal to that of each voting member of the Employee Council.

E. Meetings.
The Employee Council shall meet at the request of the Chair as frequently as required to perform its duties, but not less than quarterly.

F. Quorum.
A majority of voting members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business and an affirmative vote of the majority of those present at any meeting shall be sufficient for any official action.

Section IV.  Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Community Advisory Council.

A. Purpose.
The Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Community Advisory Council (hereinafter, “The Community Council”) shall advocate for, engage in and respond to issues, concerns and needs of county residents as it relates to diversity, inclusion and equity. The Community Council’s responsibilities shall include:

  1. Providing advisement to, and working collaboratively with, the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer on specific community diversity, inclusion and equity issues, to include: community education and awareness; equitable access to government opportunities, resources and services; public policy analysis and impacts; public accommodations; and other relevant topics.
  2. Assisting in the planning of community initiatives and/or events designed to foster a culture that acknowledges, advances and celebrates diversity, inclusion and equity county-wide.

B.  Membership.
The Community Council shall consist of at least 7 and not more than 14 voting members. Each County Council member shall appoint one representative from each of their respective council districts. The County Executive shall also appoint up to 7 additional members, serving at-large. The Community Council will seek to maintain diversity of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation/identity, national origin, religion, physical/mental ability and other relevant classifications.

C. Terms.
Each voting member will be appointed by the Baltimore County Executive for a term of two years. An appointed member may not serve more than two consecutive two-year terms.

D. Chair.
The Chair of the Community Council shall be elected to a one year term by the voting membership. The Chair shall have one vote, equal to that of each voting member of the Community Council.

E. Meetings.
The Community Council shall meet at the request of the Chair as frequently as required to perform its duties, but not less than quarterly.

F. Quorum.
A majority of voting members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business and an affirmative vote of the majority of those present at any meeting shall be sufficient for any official action.

Section V. Staff Assistance.

Staff assistance shall be provided by the Office of Human Resources and the Baltimore County Executive’s Office.

Section VI. Effective Date.

This Executive Order shall take effect immediately according to its terms.


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.

First-of-its-Kind Workgroup

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.

Workgroup Members

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.

Workgroup Tasks

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.


 
 
Revised September 11, 2017