Reform of Baltimore’s Civilian Review Board Passes Md. General Assembly

by: Roberto Alejandro Special to the AFRO
/ Sen. Joan Conway (D-Baltimore City) (Courtesy Photo msa.maryland.gov) /
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Baltimore’s Civilian Review Board will soon have two new members and will be required to hold during the year, at least four of its monthly meetings in locations around the city, rather than at police headquarters downtown.Capture2

Senate Bill 882, sponsored by Sen. Joan Conway (D-Baltimore City), passed the General Assembly and will require Baltimore’s Civilian Review Board to add two new members, one each from the ACLU Maryland and the Baltimore City NAACP. Both members are to be selected by the mayor of Baltimore City.

The bill originally aimed to place all law enforcement agencies operating in Maryland under the jurisdiction of the review board, but the Maryland Transit Administration and the police agency of the University of Maryland system, both state agencies, were ultimately exempted from the bill, according to Dr. Marvin Cheatham, head of the coalition which sought to have the bill passed.

“We would have preferred [those agencies] being in [the law], but as a result of that . . . the [Maryland Transit Administration] has agreed to meet with [our coalition] and get from them what are their guidelines for people filing complaints, where do people go, and we will be encouraging them to do a stronger public relations piece, so people will know what to do,” said Cheatham.

The Civilian Review Board has been in danger of not reaching a quorum at its monthly meetings because four of the five seats on the board are not currently filled, said Cheatham. The two new members should help address this issue.

Del. Nathaniel Oaks (D-Baltimore City), who sponsored the House version of the bill, said that, in an ideal world, he would have liked to see the University of Maryland police system placed under the jurisdiction of the Civilian Review Board, since they have arrest files in Baltimore City.

“There were some things that we wanted that I got [in the bill] so I’m pleased with that,” said Oaks. “Not necessarily satisfied, but I’m pleased.”

ralejandro@afro.com

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