Coun­cil­man Cran­dell an­nounces op­po­si­tion to SMART Polic­ing Act

The Dundalk Eagle - - FRONT PAGE - By BILL GATES bgates@ches­pub.com

County Coun­cil­man Todd Cran­dell has an­nounced he will not sup­port the SMART Polic­ing Act, a po­lice re­form ini­tia­tive in­tro­duced last week by County Ex­ec­u­tive John Ol­szewski Jr.

“Un­less Bill 96-20, the SMART Polic­ing Act, is sig­nif­i­cantly amended, I will most likely be the only County Coun­cil mem­ber to vote ‘No’,” said Cran­dell, a Repub­li­can who rep­re­sents the 7th District (Dundalk-Edge­mere and part of Es­sex), in a state­ment on Tues­day.

The bill will be dis­cussed on Sept. 29 and voted upon on Oct. 2.

Cran­dell de­scribed the bill as “about pol­i­tics, not pub­lic safety.”

It bans the use of all neck re­straints by po­lice, in­clud­ing choke­holds, un­less a per­son’s life is in im­me­di­ate jeop­ardy. The bill also re­quires po­lice ren­der aid or call for med­i­cal care for any in­di­vid­ual in po­lice cus­tody who has an ob­vi­ous in­jury or com­plains of an in­jury.

Also re­quired by the SMART Polic­ing Act are poli­cies to limit use of force; obli­gat­ing of­fi­cers to in­ter­vene to stop fel­low of­fi­cers from us­ing ex­ces­sive force and to re­port the use of force; pro­tec­tions to pro­hibit re­tal­i­a­tions against of­fi­cers who re­port ex­ces­sive force; ad­di­tional train­ing for of­fi­cers at risk of en­gag­ing in ex­ces­sive force; au­tho­riz­ing the Chief of Po­lice to select up to two civil­ians to serve on a po­lice hear­ing board; and re­quir­ing pub­lic ac­cess to ‘use of

force’ data and po­lice-in­volved shoot­ings.

“If you re­mem­ber, the first at­tempt at “po­lice re­form” leg­is­la­tion this sum­mer was tabled by four mem­bers of the Coun­cil, in­clud­ing my­self,” Cran­dell wrote. “The mea­sures in that leg­is­la­tion were so cum­ber­some and un­work­able that the bill was op­posed by the Bal­ti­more County Po­lice Chief, the State’s At­tor­ney, and the Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice. I voted to ta­ble that bill in case it had any pos­si­bil­ity of pas­sage.

“Bill 96-20, given an acro­nym that’s hard to dis­agree with, is a wa­tered down ver­sion of the orig­i­nal bill. Most of what 96-20 calls for is al­ready be­ing done by long-stand­ing po­lice depart­ment pol­icy and pro­ce­dures or an­nounced by the County Ex­ec­u­tive as new ini­tia­tives in early June.”

Ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics posted by the Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice Lodge #4 (Bal­ti­more County), county po­lice have shown a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment in a num­ber of ar­eas over the 10-year pe­riod from 2010-19.

De­spite a steady in­crease of calls for ser­vice (a to­tal of 6,236,403, ris­ing from 604,706 in 2010 to 749,403 in 2019) and the county pop­u­la­tion ris­ing from 801,700 to 835,000, there has been a large drop in the num­ber of ar­rests, uses of force by county of­fi­cers and cit­i­zen com­plaints.

Ar­rests have dropped from 33,898 in 2010 to 21,689 in 2019, with each year show­ing a de­crease from the pre­vi­ous year and trend­ing down­ward 35 per­cent dur­ing the decade.

Uses of force de­creased from 329 in 2010 to 249 in 2019 (for a to­tal of 2,934 in­ci­dents over 10 years), while cit­i­zen com­plaints fell from 128 to 50 (877 to­tal).

That is an aver­age of 293 uses of force per year, which is less than once use of force per day. Ad­di­tion­ally, force was re­ported used in ,047 per­cent of all calls for ser­vice and 1.105 per­cent of all ar­rests.

“This does not sound like a po­lice depart­ment in need of re­form, but one that should be hon­ored,” Cran­dell wrote.

Ac­cord­ing to county In­ter­nal Af­fairs, county po­lice were in­volved in 60 com­bat shoot­ings over the 10-year pe­riod; an aver­age of six per year.

“I do not see a rea­son to leg­is­late those poli­cies and pro­ce­dures, es­pe­cially when most laws gov­ern­ing how lo­cal po­lice op­er­ate are fed­eral and state statutes,” Cran­dell wrote. “In fact, the House of Del­e­gates’ Work Group on Ad­dress­ing Po­lice Re­form & Ac­count­abil­ity in Mary­land will make rec­om­men­da­tions to the Gen­eral Assem­bly later this year.

“Any­thing passed by the Gen­eral Assem­bly will in all prob­a­bil­ity su­per­sede what­ever Bal­ti­more County en­acts. So if 96-20 du­pli­cates what is al­ready be­ing done and may be ren­dered ob­so­lete by state law, why not just go along with my col­leagues and vote Yes in­stead of be­ing the lone ‘No’ vote (again.)?

“Here’s why: I rep­re­sent the peo­ple of the 7th District, a com­mu­nity that sup­ports our men and women in Blue. To have BCPD cast as an agency some­how in need of re­form is an in­sult to them, and I be­lieve po­lice work is dif­fi­cult enough with­out politi­cian’s un­war­ranted in­ter­fer­ence.”

Dur­ing the press con­fer­ence last week in­tro­duc­ing the SMART Act, county coun­cil mem­bers Cathy Bevins (6th District), David Marks (5th District), Izzy Pa­toka (2nd District), Wade Kach (3rd District), Tom Quirk (1st District) and Ju­lian Jones Jr. (4th District) spoke in fa­vor of the leg­is­la­tion.

TODD CRAN­DELL

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