NewsRegionBaltimore County


Baltimore County announces new steps aimed at reforming police department

Posted at 11:58 AM, Jun 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-19 17:31:01-04

TOWSON, Md. — Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski and Police Chief Melissa Hyatt on Friday announced a series of new steps aimed at reforming the police department.

One of the steps include updating the department's use of force policy. Officers will now undergo training on de-escalation, integrating communications, assessment, and tactics, implicit bias, and fair and impartial policing.

Hyatt is also requiring officers to intervene and report any witnessed excessive or unnecessary use of force by their colleagues.

Olszwski says the county will sign on to the Obama Foundation Pledge to review and update the policy with community input.

Another way Olszewski says he wants to increase police accountability, is by making complaints on officers, uses of force, and traffic stops broken down by race available on a public dashboard. The County Executive also said he supports amending the Public Information Act to include dispositions of police disciplinary cases.

The department will also hire an independent analyst to review their hiring and recruitment practices, including how testing and background investigations are given.

Finally the department hired it's first ever Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, to study and address policing disparities and promote equity and inclusion Countywide.

The public will be asked to provide input on the study's findings and how to implement change withing the department.

Meanwhile on Friday, Baltimore County Councilman Julian Jones announced he would be introducing a set of new police reforms at the July 6 council meeting.

The following eight points are what Jones says will be in his proposed legislation..

1) Defines and requires the use of deescalation techniques before a Police Officer may use physical force

2) Defines and limits the use of physical force by a Police Officer

3) Prohibits the use of choke holds (and related neck asphyxiation techniques) by a Police Officer

4) Requires a Police Officer to render or call for medical aid in certain circumstances

5) Requires a Police Officer to intervene and report when another Police Officer uses unnecessary or excessive physical force

6) Requires the Department to implement an early intervention system (which includes a database with use of force statistics) for Police Officers who may be at risk for engaging in excessive force

7) Pursuant to an authorization permitted by the State Law Enforcement Bill of Rights, requires the Chief of Police to appoint two members of the public to a Police Hearing Board.

8) Whistle blower protections for officers reporting other officers