BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City residents can now serve on police trial boards, having a say in how officers are disciplined when they are charged with misconduct.
Ex-Officio Mayor Jack Young addressed the change in a press conference Wednesday. It will be effective on July 1.
City Solicitor Andre Davis said getting civilians on the police board is something the city has been working toward for years.
“The trial board that used to be three police officers will now be five members — three sworn police officers and two civilian members,” Davis said. “All with equal voting power.”
“This will significantly contribute to transparency in police accountability,” Davis added.
Davis said the city had to negotiate the terms as a part of their collective bargaining agreement with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 3.
Trial boards are public and Davis said he hopes with the civilian trial board members the public will know when the hearings are and will also get more of an understanding of how the board made a decision.
“The civilian members of the trial board, when a decision is rendered, will be able to explain on the record in front of the public, the reasons why they are voting to convict an officer — if that’s their judgement — and the reasons why they are voting to acquit an officer,” Davis said. “Something we haven’t had up until now.”
Darnell Ingram, director of the mayor’s office of civil rights and wage enforcement, said this step allows the public to have more of a say in the Baltimore Police Department’s daily actions.
“Civilian oversight of BPD trial board has been long sought by community activists and officials who want more transparency in the outcome of internal investigations into police misconduct as well as to ensure that those on the board are truly holding their own accountable for their actions,” Ingram said.
The application for residents of Baltimore City to apply to be on the trial board is available on the city and city police websites.