This story was updated at 12 p.m. June 9, 2022, to include comments from Gabe Albornoz.
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich announced the nine people he has selected to serve on the county’s newly created Police Accountability Board, pending confirmation by the County Council.
The nine proposed members, who must reside in the county, are:
- Bishop Paul Walker, chair of the board and a local pastor
- Alicia Hudson, an attorney and member of the county’s Policing Advisory Commission
- Kenneth Kellner, an attorney working with the U.S. Department of Justice
- George Lluberes, a political scientist who works in market research
- Rudy Logan, a nonprofit official and minister
- Katharine Manning, an attorney who has worked on several social issues
- Alvin “Greg” McCray, an information technology and sales professional
- Thomas Williams Jr., a county Board of Elections aide and former financial adviser
- Christopher Zatratz, a labor attorney
The Police Accountability Board, broadly speaking, would handle complaints about possible police misconduct. It also would advise the county executive and council on policing issues and review complaints of police misconduct filed by the public.
The County Council passed a bill creating the board and a related administrative charging committee in response to calls for police reform and in response to state legislation enabling the creation of those bodies. Police Accountability Board members will make $10,000 annually, and Administrative Charging Committee members will make $16,000 annually. The exception is the chair, which would likely serve both boards and make $22,000 per year.
After reviewing a complaint, the board would then refer it to a new Administrative Charging Committee, whose members have not been selected. It’s likely, but not guaranteed, that the same person would serve as chair of both boards.
Charging committee members are tasked with reviewing complaints, which could include examining body camera footage and evidence. The committee also would interview witnesses, which could include any officer involved, and would recommend any administrative charges for officers.
Every three months, the accountability board also would review the outcomes of police “disciplinary matters” considered by the committee.
Earl Stoddard, the county’s assistant chief administrative officer, told reporters Wednesday that there were about 65 applicants for the nine board seats. Stoddard was part of a review panel with other county officials that interviewed more than 20 people for the board seats.
The panel asked candidates nine questions, including about how they would conduct their work on the board, why they were interested in serving, and whether they could review cases impartially, he said.
“We said this very overtly to candidates: We did not want people who were going to rubber stamp anything the police did. We also did not want individuals who were going to think the police were guilty of doing something, regardless of the circumstances,” Stoddard said.
Stoddard said the review panel will use a similar process to choose proposed members of the Administrative Charging Committee. That five-member board will consist of:
- The chair of the accountability board or a designee chosen by the chair
- Two members nominated by the county executive and confirmed by the council
- Two members selected by the Police Accountability Board
The county had expected to choose and confirm members for the accountability board and the charging committee by July 1, Stoddard said. That’s the state deadline for filling the police accountability board, he added.
The state deadline exists because state lawmakers passed bills in 2021, and later made tweaks to them this year. The legislature allowed counties to set up their own police accountability boards — but stipulated that they must establish them by July 1, 2022.
Elrich and Stoddard said they expect to announce their selections for the charging committee in the coming weeks.
County officials are a bit behind because the legislature’s revisions to the corresponding state legislation delayed a final vote on the county bill for weeks. Stoddard said county officials are also waiting to receive standards and regulations from the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission, which will provide more information on the issues that will be the purview of the accountability board and charging committee.
“For example, if an officer was accused of something and they want to admit to wrongdoing but take a lesser penalty … there was a discussion at that level, whether those kinds of things would be permitted to happen,” Stoddard said, referring to meetings held by the commission.
Stoddard said the commission also discussed the process for removing members of the accountability board and the charging committee “if they are found to have done something inappropriate.”
County Council President Gabe Albornoz said in an interview that the County Council will begin its interview of the nine candidates on June 21. He added that the council should have enough time to confirm them, or any other picks if they choose not to confirm all nine people, by the July 1 deadline.
Steve Bohnel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org