As police departments across the country consider how to improve relationships with the community, leaders in Baltimore have one idea that they’d like to see put in action within the next couple months.
A new state law allows civilians to play a role in the Baltimore Police Department’s internal disciplinary panels, sometimes also called police trial boards. These boards have a role in determining whether an officer accused of misconduct or excessive force should be fired or suspended. Having non-police involved in the process would hold officers accountable to the community, supporters argue. But even as civilians play an increasingly large role in police oversight processes, law enforcement officers are still not exactly happy that they’re there.
The new law allows up to two trained civilians to join the disciplinary panels, which currently consist of three officers. As the Sun notes, city leaders–including Police Commissioner Kevin Davis–support this move. But in order for that to happen, the police union has to okay the plan, and so far they’re not doing so, because–as they argue–civilians don’t know enough about police procedure to be able to make such decisions.
Representatives from Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s administration and the police union are negotiating the issue, the Sun reports.
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