Bill to move Baltimore Police Department under city control not moving forward

Posted at 5:38 PM, Mar 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-03 23:22:50-05

The bill to place the Baltimore City Police Department under the control of the city, versus the state, will not move forward. 

Councilman Brandon Scott, chair of the city council's public safety committee, said he's very disappointed in the decision.

"I'm extremely disappointed that HB-1504 will not be moving forward," he said in a statement. "Today's event represents a lost opportunity for all Baltimoreans. Baltimore's citizens deserve the same level of local control afforded to residents of all other Maryland jurisdiction."

Monday, members of the Baltimore City Council passed a resolution in support for House Bill 1504, which would make Baltimore police a city agency. 

RELATED: Baltimore City Council votes to control police department

Del. Curt Anderson, chai rof the Baltimore City delegation, introduced the bill in Annapolis. 

As written, it would give the mayor and city council "full power and authority" over city police.

An opinion written by the Office of the Maryland Attorney General and requested by Anderson throws that into jeopardy.
The office's counsel to the general assembly, Sandra Brantley, writes, if passed, the bill could leave the city "exposed to significantly higher" lawsuit damages, a concern as millions have already been paid from city coffers to people alleging police brutality.
Those settlements have come even as the department benefits from "sovereign immunity" given to state agencies.
"Basically what they're saying is that the city police department gets sued so frequently that the city can't afford to be a local agency and its going to increase liability. That tells you the structure is broken," said Scott in an interview Friday. 
Friday's decision not to move forward with the bill comes just two days after seven Baltimore police officers were indicted in a racketeering conspiracy. 

See also: 7 Baltimore Police officers indicted in racketeering conspiracy

The Baltimore Police Department has been controlled by the state since the Civil War.

Anderson was unable to be reached Friday evening.

A spokesperson for Mayor Catherine Pugh said she had no comment on the developments.