The county has released a preliminary audit report of the police department in advance of a community forum to be held via Zoom at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 7 to discuss the results so far.
The report, conducted by Effective Law Enforcement for All, Inc., is a part of County Executive Marc Elrich’s Reimagining Public Safety Initiative.
“Montgomery County has a good police department,” said Elrich in a press release. “Any good organization should always look at itself and determine what changes need to be made to meet the current and future challenges it faces. We are a diverse county, and we need to ensure that all our residents have confidence that people who are sworn to protect them will do just that.”
“This preliminary report discusses ELE4A’s review of the organizational structure of the Montgomery County Police Department, its internal affairs system including approaches to handling uses of force, mental health response, recruitment and hiring, and assessment of the training Academy,” according to the release.
Some of the recommendations in the audit include, according to the release:
- Determine a single repository for use of force and internal affairs incidents
- Investigate all use of force incidents
- Expand the role of Internal Affairs to include investigating criminal misconduct of officers instead of assigning this to investigators in the Investigative Services Bureau
- Develop a Force Investigation Team within Internal Affairs to conduct serious uses of force investigations and review
- Develop a system to conduct criminal and internal investigations as parallel investigations; new Maryland state law will change processes for investigating officer-involved shootings effective October 1, and
- Revise MCPD use of deadly force investigation policies and protocols to require a prompt, separate, parallel administrative investigation of each officer-involved shooting, and require the preparation of a report documenting investigative findings.
Councilmember Hans Riemer (D-At Large), who is running against Elrich for county executive, issued a statement on the report. It reads in part, ““Our residents deserve action, not more delay, task forces and talk. The county executive needs to tackle the hard part of police reform. He should support Bill 34-20, which is before the Council now, to reform the collective bargaining system and ensure that MCPD is able to enact the very policy changes this report calls for without having them undermined by the FOP. A major focus of this report is ‘use of force’ policy. The report fails to address how an MPCD effort to revise the use of force policy was delayed by the FOP for ten years.”
Riemer is a lead sponsor of Expedited Bill 34-20, Police – Disciplinary Procedures – Police Labor Relations – Duty to Bargain – Amendments, introduced in July 2020, which would amend the disciplinary procedures for county police officers by requiring the use of a traditional hearing board under the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights.
The bill also “would exclude collective bargaining over the composition of a police hearing board, the right of the Chief to make a final decision on discipline, and the right of the Chief to issue a directive or administrative order implementing an employer right,” according to the council staff report.
The ELE4A’s audit is continuing and a final report is expected in the fall. Those interested in participating in next week’s forum must register in advance online.