County Executive Marc Elrich said he wants state legislation that would require the state police to conduct an independent investigation of any officer-involved shooting in Maryland.
Elrich made the comment at a Thursday afternoon news conference before signing a similar bill passed by the County Council that requires that the county partner with an outside agency to conduct investigations into officer-involved shootings.
“That would be the simplest and most direct way, and you wouldn’t have to negotiate between jurisdictions,” he said of a statewide bill.
Elrich said in an interview that former Police Chief Tom Manger had attempted to find a partner agency to outsource such investigations, but was unsuccessful.
“You’d have to find a jurisdiction that agrees to do this with you. I can’t make anyone do this,” he said.
Elrich said he hopes to see a bill that was sponsored this past session legislative by Del. Emily Shetty, a Kensington Democrat, advance next year.
Shetty’s bill would have required each jurisdiction in Maryland to set up a framework for investigating officer-involved deaths similar to the Montgomery bill. Shetty’s bill was did not clear the legislature.
“What we’re going to add to this is having the state police actually do this,” he said. “In the long run, the best solution is to get the state police to do the investigation so that I don’t have to negotiate to get other jurisdictions to do this.”
The calls for scrutiny of Montgomery’s police department come in the wake of a shooting of an unarmed black man last summer, as well as a video of a white police officer using a racial slur toward two black men last week.
Elrich, council member Will Jawando and other county leaders have called for reforms such as increased use of “community policing” tactics.
Elrich is in the process of hiring a replacement for Manger, who retired last month. He said there are more than 20 candidates for the position, and that the applicants include women, minorities and are from around the country. He declined to elaborate and said he would like to make an offer to a candidate by July.
“Some people still have jobs. Their employers don’t know they’ve been looking for other jobs,” he said.
A community forum is scheduled for June 6, where citizens will give input on what they hope to see in the next police chief. Elrich said he is asking candidates for the job to review video of the forum before interviewing.
“I can’t force anybody, but I think it would be good if you’re going to come here and want to be the police chief here, it would be advantageous to listen to a three-hour meeting and hear what people thought was important,” he said.
Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.email@example.com