TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — In the wake of nationwide calls for police reform following the deaths of George Floyd and others, the Baltimore County Council passed a bill Monday night banning the use of chokeholds and making other changes to policing.
The bill, which passed 6-1, also prohibits the police department for hiring someone who was fired or resigned in another county or state for reasons related to use-of-force.
Other changes include requiring officers to intervene if they see other officers using excessive force, protects those who report misconduct and requires annual de-escalation training and a report on use-of-force cases from the police chief.
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County Executive Johnny Olszewski said the bill’s passage is a step toward a more just and equitable future.
“Locally, this is about supporting an already great police department, making them stronger, building trust within our communities, saying we can do more and be better,” he said.
Councilman Julian Jones, one fo the bill’s sponsors, thanked those in the community who spoke on behalf of the reforms. Some of them took part in a virtual news conference ahead of the vote.
“Accountability and transparency will be a step towards improving the conduct of Baltimore County Police,” one activist said.
When the bill was first introduced, Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt called it a “collaborative effort to forward public safety.” The legislation also received support from the county’s police union.
“It’s probably one of the most thoughtful pieces of legislation that we’ve been involved in that will help both the police and the community,” Council Chairwoman Cathy Bevins said.
Jones said he would eventually like to appoint civilians as voting members on the Baltimore County Police Department Disciplinary Hearing Board. That amendment did not pass Monday, but he hopes it will in the future.