Mayor, City Solicitor to Testify in Support of Local Control of BPD
Thursday Feb 11th, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BALTIMORE, MD (Thursday, February 11, 2021) — Today, Mayor Brandon M. Scott and City Solicitor Jim Shea will testify before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in support of legislation that would restore local control of the Baltimore Police Department, currently a state agency. The Mayor has been among the advocates and community leaders who have lobbied for this change for nearly a decade in Annapolis.
SB0786/HB1027, sponsored by Senator Cory McCray (D45-Baltimore City) and Delegate Melissa Wells (D40-Baltimore City) at the request of the Mayor, would establish BPD as an agency and instrumentality of the City of Baltimore, instead of the State. The legislation would also establish a community-driven advisory board, which would guide the transition from state to local control. Once passed, the measure will appear on the ballot as a Charter Amendment for final approval by the voters.
“Baltimore City is the only jurisdiction in Maryland that does not directly oversee its police department,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “The ability to set policies and provide oversight locally will enable us to truly transform the BPD and fulfill consent decree requirements. With increasing calls for police accountability, now more than ever, Baltimore City must regain the authority to oversee its police department.”
“We are encouraged by the Mayor’s commitment to bringing this question of local control to the ballot in 2022 and ensuring more community participation in the Advisory Board. Local control of BPD is about racial justice, police accountability, representative democracy and self-determination for the people of Baltimore. Implementing local control and ensuring robust community participation is essential for building bridges of trust between this administration, Baltimore’s Black communities and Baltimore City residents as a whole,” said Rob Ferrell of Organizing Black and member of the Campaign for Justice, Safety and Jobs coalition.
State control dates back over one hundred years to 1860, when the Maryland State Legislature declared the Baltimore Police Department a state agency. Transferring control of the BPD to Baltimore City would enable City residents and local elected officials to set policies and provide oversight, rather than having to advocate for reform through state representatives. This change would align Baltimore City with comparable jurisdictions in the state.
“I thank the sponsors for their support and look forward to working closely with the coalition of advocates to improve the bill with amendments that reflect a shorter implementation timeline and increased community collaboration,” continued Mayor Scott.