BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City Council members are asking the state to turn over control of the Baltimore City Police Department.
The police department has been a state-controlled agency since the late 1800s.
Most residents may be under the impression that the city controls the police department, and on the surface, you would think so.
It has been considered archaic, but in recent years, council members find the state code governing the Baltimore City Police Department ties their hands.
“When we tried to do the body cameras, they told us we had no authority to tell the police department what to do,” said Jack Young. Baltimore City Council President.
Since the late 1800s, Baltimore City PD has been under control of the state.
The mayor hires and fires the commissioner, city taxpayers fund the department, the city carries the weight of liability for officer conduct, but oversight and policy belongs to the general assembly.
“There are several proven instances where we would have already taken action if we had the ability,” said councilman Brandon Scott
Public Safety Committee Chairman Brandon Scott is a champion of the cause, but when WJZ’s Pat Warren asked the mayor’s office about it, she was told, “Councilman Scott has not spoken to the mayor about any legislation regarding the Baltimore City Police Department or its financial implications for the department or the city. She finds the lack of communications on such important matters to be disrespectful.”
Baltimore City Delegate Curt Anderson is sponsoring the bill in Annapolis, and a hearing is set for next month.
“You’ve been down there, you know what the process is,” said Anderson “Most bills don’t pass the first year, but we’re certainly going to work on getting this passed this year.”
And like the police department, that decision too is in the hands of people who don’t live in the city.
In general, the legislature goes along with what the local delegation approves, but this could be a hard sell.
The city delegation to Annapolis has not signed off on the bill yet.