Why does the FOP fear greater trans­parency?

Baltimore Sun - - FROM PAGE ONE - Mike Pretl, River­ton The writer is a re­tired at­tor­ney who has rep­re­sented both pa­tients and health care providers be­fore the HCAO (now known as the Health Care Al­ter­na­tive Dis­pute Res­o­lu­tion Of­fice).

Re­spond­ing to com­mu­nity con­cerns about re­ported po­lice mis­con­duct, Bal­ti­more may­oral can­di­date Sen. Cather­ine Pugh has pro­posed al­low­ing civil­ians to par­tic­i­pate on the city’s po­lice re­view board, a pro­posal adamantly op­posed by the Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice, the lo­cal po­lice union (“Pugh wants to strengthen law putting civil­ians on po­lice trial boards,” Sept. 28).

Bal­ti­more FOP Pres­i­dent Gene Ryan is quoted as say­ing that civil­ians “don’t know what we do in our pro­fes­sion. How can they sit in judg­ment of us? Would you want me sit­ting on a med­i­cal mal­prac­tice board when I don’t know what a doc­tor does?”

Well, yes. Mr. Ryan is ob­vi­ously un­aware that as long ago as 1976, Mary­land law­mak­ers es­tab­lished the state’s Health Claims Ar­bi­tra­tion Of­fice. The HCAO was charged by law with cre­at­ing re­view pan­els — con­sist­ing of both med­i­cal and non­med­i­cal mem­bers — to hear fac­tual and ex­pert tes­ti­mony in ad­ju­di­cat­ing med­i­cal mal­prac­tice claims.

While this sys­tem not sur­pris­ingly has of­ten been crit­i­cized by doc­tors, pa­tients and lawyers, it has op­er­ated for 40 years to re­solve more than 2,200 com­plaints of al­leged mal­prac­tice.

The hy­brid sys­tem of civil­ian mem­bers and med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als isn’t per­fect, but it does ac­cord a mea­sure of due process eq­uity in the res­o­lu­tion of dis­putes, and it has helped re­store pub­lic con­fi­dence.

What does the Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice have to fear from a sim­i­larly trans­par­ent and open process?

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