Credit: Annabelle Gordon

As jurisdictions across the country grapple with how to address accountability in policing, a new proposed bill in the Montgomery County Council would restructure how the county oversees police reform and public safety.

Expedited Bill 27-23, co-sponsored by councilmembers Dawn Luedtke (D-Dist. 7) and Sidney Katz (D-Dist. 3), seeks to repeal the county’s existing Policing Advisory Commission (PAC) to clarify the work of police accountability in the county. This is because the county will instate a state-mandated Police Accountability Board (PAB) in July.

Luedtke said this is an opportunity to make sure that work is effective and streamlined as the county works to prevent racial profiling and police brutality.

“There are certain discrete tasks that were put in the [PAC] legislation,” Luedtke said. “I feel like policymakers owe a duty to make sure the things that they put into law are working.”

A bill establishing the PAC passed in December 2019 and went into effect in March 2020. Because of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, members weren’t appointed until July 2020. Those members’ terms are set to expire on July 31.

By July 1 each year, the PAC must submit to the County Executive and the council an annual report on its functions, activities, accomplishments, plans and objectives. However, the PAC did not submit a report in 2022. The PAC most recently submitted a report in 2021.


In April 2021, the Maryland General Assembly amended the Maryland Public Safety Article to require each county to have a police accountability board. The county passed a resolution in May 2022 in accordance with state law to establish the board. Members of the Police Accountability Board were appointed on June 28, 2022 to terms that would start on July 1, 2023. The board is fully staffed with an executive director. The PAB’s role is to advise the council and county executive on police accountability issues, which is the current role of the PAC.

“We’re trying to educate the public on this, but it’s very confusing because there is some overlap between the old county PAC that I’m trying to sunset and the new PAB, which are supposed to advise the council and the executive on concerns or things that are surfacing,” Luedtke said.

“A lack of clarity around how to engage and how to file complaints because there are existence of bodies that may seem similar, but don’t have exactly the same functions or can’t carry out and address those citizens’ complaints can erode trust in the process and needlessly cause confusion among the public on complex legal issues,” Luedtke said when she introduced the bill during a council meeting last week.


Some councilmembers voiced concern over eliminating the commission. Councilmember Will Jawando (D-At-large) said he thinks there is a larger difference between the two bodies than Luedtke’s bill states.

“The PAC was created to advise the council and it’s appointed by the council. Whereas the other body is state-mandated and appointed primarily by the county executive. … We don’t yet have a sense of the scale and scope and time and weight of those responsibilities of the PAB, whereas the PAC is only an advising body on policy and regulation and implementation of laws,” Jawando said.

Jawando said the role of the PAB will primarily be to receive complaints from the public about police misconduct.


“I think it would make a lot of sense to have an in-depth discussion with those members, both past and present, and talk this through before we repeal it,” Jawando said.

Councilmember Kristin Mink (D-Dist. 4) said she thinks it would be a good option to wait a year to see what work the PAB has done, and then discuss whether it would make sense to sunset the PAC.

Luedtke said she thinks there is room for overlap between the two bodies to make sure there isn’t a lapse in the work of police accountability and argues that the PAC should not end immediately. She voiced concern over the level of turnover within the PAC – three chairs in three years — and a lack of consistency in training particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The county could move forward and have a fresh start by focusing on the new PAB, she said.


Luedtke also said she sees eliminating the PAC as an opportunity to re-envision public safety accountability. She’s interested in creating a body separate from the PAB that would look into equity and accountability across public safety and emergency response services – including fire, EMS and 911 dispatch — especially when it comes to hate and bias incidents. She said it’s important to address implicit and explicit bias.

“We’ve been seeing it and feeling it here in Montgomery County with respect to attacks on our African American communities, Asian communities, Jewish communities, LGBTQ communities. We’re seeing a lot of explicit bias where somebody recognizes that that is the way they feel [about a marginalized group] and they are being brazen about it,” Luedtke said. “Both of those need to be addressed and both of them need to be understood fundamentally as distinct pieces of behavioral philosophy. So, I think that there is a need to put another group in place, but it needs to not be confused with the other things.”

A public hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. June 13  during a County Council meeting. A Public Safety Committee work session focused on the bill is scheduled for June 26.