A proposal floated in City Hall on Monday night would take Baltimore’s push for citizen involvement in police reform a step further by creating a 20-member “citizens advisory commission.”
Councilman Brandon Scott, who represents a section of mostly Northeast Baltimore in District 2, proposed a bill that would establish the Baltimore City Citizens Advisory Commission for Public Safety. The body would guide the Baltimore Police Department to improve its relationships with youth, minority communities, the homeless and other groups.
The commission would draw up a report each November laying out how police could better engage with minorities – including black, LGBT, immigrant and refugee communities – as well as build “long-term consistent interaction” with the city’s youth, engage positively with residents reentering from prison and recruit and retain more Baltimoreans as police officers, according to the bill text.
The mayor would appoint each member to a four-year term. It would include, in part, one city delegate and one senator, two city residents and representatives from the Hispanic and LGBT communities, as well as a member of the city’s police union.
Scott’s idea received overwhelming support, with 13 of his 14 council colleagues co-sponsoring the bill.
Under the recently initiated court-ordered police reform process, Baltimore City is already looking to overhaul its Civilian Review Board for the Baltimore Police Department, which is supposed to work with police to investigate complaints of officer misconduct, such as abuse and excessive use of force. (The board has been empty since Mayor Pugh took office, though after months of inactivity, she recently said she’s nominated new members.) Pugh last week issued a call for five Baltimoreans to join a task force that would overhaul the Civilian Review Board over the course of a year.
But Scott, chair of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, said something more permanent is needed. “This is not about the consent decree or being in competition with anything. This is about making sure that we have a long-lasting policy that impacts the reform of our police department,” he said during the hearing, per Fox45.
Scott spent a few minutes earlier that day talking with WBAL about where policing in Baltimore stands two years out from the death of Freddie Gray in officers’ custody. He commended pushes by his council colleagues and community-based nonprofits to help fix crime-riddled areas and improve police accountability, but added, “The things that we’re talking about are generational things and they’ll always take time, long periods of time for us to get through them.”
His comments came on the same day the city’s homicide total surpassed 100 killings in under four months, the fastest rate in nearly two decades.
Scott’s bill was referred to the City Solicitor, the Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement and the Baltimore Police Department for their review, legislative records show.
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