Baltimore Civilians to Serve on Review Board for Police Misconduct
The City of Baltimore is presently accepting applications from civilians to serve on a review board for police misconduct, according to an article by The Baltimore Sun.
City government officials made this announcement on April 24, 2019, ushering in a new era of police review and accountability. Residents of Baltimore can apply for each of the two civilian slots on each review board. These boards hear administrative matters concerning misconduct within the police department.
The old system for these police review boards has experienced intense public scrutiny in the recent past. Many instances of police misconduct in Baltimore — including the highly publicized death of Freddie Gray during his arrest — ended without serious repercussions for the officers involved. Those officers involved have largely escaped criminal liability for their actions.
In the past, law enforcement officers were the only members of misconduct review boards. When there was a complaint of police misconduct, three law enforcement officers would review the case. Two of the board members were high-ranking commanders. The third member needed to be the same rank as the accused officer.
During the review process, the board evaluated available facts and evidence. Then the board would consider whether to recommend discipline, up to and including suspension or termination. Ultimately, however, the police commissioner was the final decision-maker concerning disciplinary measures for officers accused of police misconduct.
Moving forward, civilians will play a vital role in holding police officers accountable for their actions. The newly constituted review boards will each consist of three police officers and two civilians. City officials believe that civilian participation in these review boards will help establish better trust between police officers and the communities they serve.
City officials also announced the application requirements for civilians interested in serving on a review board. Specifically, a valid applicant must demonstrate:
- Existing commitment to public service;
- Refined ability to communicate;
- Absence of bias for or against police officers;
- Zero felony convictions on their criminal record; and
- No misdemeanor convictions in the previous 10 years.
Additionally, review board applicants must complete certain training requirements, including but not necessarily limited to:
- 40 hours of police administration training at the state and city levels; and
- 20 hours of ride-alongs with police officers performing their official duties.
In terms of payment, any applicant who completes all of the training requirements will receive $500. And review board members will receive a stipend for participation in each police misconduct case.
Any Baltimore residents interested in serving on the new review boards can apply directly on the police department’s website using this link: www.baltimorepolice.org/careers/civilian-hearing-board-member.
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