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Police Reform Bill Before Baltimore County Council Tuesday

Julian Jones

The national debate over reforming how police officers do their jobs comes to Baltimore County Tuesday afternoon when the county council holds a public hearing on police reform legislation. 

Democratic Councilman Julian Jones has proposed banning police officers from using choke holds. His legislation also would require a police officer to intervene when another officer is using excessive force. Officers also would get de-escalation training at least annually.

Jones said, “If we can do something to reduce the likelihood of violence or make an encounter with a citizen a better one for the officer and the citizen, then I think it’s well worth it.”

Jones said he has “crowd sourced” the legislation, asking more than one dozen officers their opinions. He said he made changes based on those conversations.

He said initially it would have banned the hiring of any officer who had served in another locality and had been fired for violating regulations. That is no longer the case. Under the proposed legislation, Baltimore County’s police chief can step in and approve the hiring of an officer who had been dismissed elsewhere.

Councilman Jones said police officers he spoke to wanted that change because sometimes officers in other localities are fired because they tried to intervene when excessive force was being used.

“Sometimes they ran afoul of the rules and regulations and sometimes they were dismissed,” Jones said.

The future of this legislation is uncertain.

Dave Rose, the president of the Baltimore County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #4 said the FOP opposes it.

No other members of the county council have signed on to the bill. Republican Todd Crandell, is already on record opposing it. A spokesman for Republican Councilman Wade Kach said he opposes it as it is currently written.

In a text, Baltimore County Council Chairwoman Cathy Bevins, a Democrat, said, “I’m still struggling with it and will know more after (Tuesday’s) work session.”

Democratic Councilman Tom Quirk said he has questions about the details of the bill.

Republicans David Marks is undecided as well.

Democratic Councilman Izzy Patoka did not return a text requesting comment.

Anyone who wants to testify on the bill can sign up between 9 am and 3 pm Tuesday on the county’s website. The county council meeting begins at 4 pm.

The council is expected to vote on the legislation August 3.

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2
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