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Baltimore Co. leaders propose new police reform legislation

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski
Posted at 11:36 AM, Sep 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-10 08:38:35-04

TOWSON, Md. — Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski and several council members Tuesday unveiled the SMART Policing Act.

The proposed legislation stands for Strengthening Modernization, Accountability, Reform, and Transparency.

One of the bill's highlights would ban officers from using chokeholds or neck restraints unless a life is at risk.

If passed, officers would undergo extended deescalation training and be forced to step-in and report any witnessed excessive force by a fellow officer.

The proposed law would add protections for those turning in one of their own.

Part of the legislation calls for an early intervention system that would flag officers who've had prior complaints against them.

If signed into law, the county police department would no longer hire officers from other agencies with past disciplinary issues.

Under the new law, Police Chief Melissa Hyatt could select two members of the public to serve on police disciplinary hearing boards.

A police labor union agreement would prevent that from going into effect unless a collective bargaining agreement could be reached at the state level.

Finally, the county plans to soon launch a public dashboard that gives access to records on uses of force, police involved shootings, and traffic stops.

“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 Olszewski.

Efforts to reform the Baltimore County Police Department have been led by Councilman Julian Jones. In July, the full council tabled another bill he introduced and sponsored.

RELATED: Baltimore County councilman calls vote to kill police reform bill a 'disgrace'

The SMART Policing Act will be officially introduced during Tuesday night's regular County Council session.

Watch the entire press conference below.