Why does the FOP fear greater transparency?
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?