Mayor Scott Signs Bills Enshrining Baltimore Police Department into City's Charter and Code

Crest of the City of Baltimore

Brandon M. Scott
Mayor,
Baltimore City
250 City Hall - Baltimore Maryland 21202
(410) 396-3835 - Fax: (410) 576-9425

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

New Laws Move Baltimore One More Step Closer to Local Control of BPD

Mayor with people holding the bill

BALTIMORE, MD (Wednesday, January 24, 2024) – Today, Mayor Brandon M. Scott was joined by members of the City Council, Baltimore Police Department (BPD) leadership, the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety & Engagement (MONSE), the Office of Equity and Civil Rights, and the Local Control Advisory Board (LCAB) to sign City Council Bills 23-0445 and 23-0449 into law which embeds BPD into the City’s Charter and Code. 

“The fight for local control of BPD has been one of my top priorities since my earliest days on City Council,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “This has been a long road that included years of advocacy in City Hall and Annapolis, built on more than 160 years of history. All of us are aligned in the belief that the Baltimore Police Department can only effectively serve the residents of Baltimore if they are fully accountable to them and to the City. By signing today’s bills, we take one more crucial step towards making local control a reality, meaning we take one more step to continue improving our police department.”

“Today’s bill signing is truly 150 years in the making, and I’m proud of this Council for its crucial part in getting this long overdue legislation across the finish line,” said Council President Nick Mosby. “Our communities have deserved more input on policy decisions, and more collaboration with the men and women entrusted to serve and protect them, and after more than a century of disenfranchisement and inefficiency, they will finally have their voices heard. And while we’re confident this will be a step in the right direction, I’ve been clear that this legislation alone is not the silver bullet for our city’s public safety concerns. This is a piece of a bigger puzzle and we have much more work to do to address the root causes of the issues plaguing our communities. But for today we can take pride in the process, in the work it took to reach this point, and in the fact that for the second time in less than a week, our Council and the Mayor’s Administration have signed historic legislation into law that puts our citizens first. This is leadership for policy change, and oversight for accountability.”

“I’m glad to see Baltimore take another big step today toward full local control of our city’s police department,” said Councilman Mark Conway (District 4), who sponsored the bills. “These bills are a product of collaboration between the council and Mayor Scott, and I look forward to advocating together in Annapolis for the remaining restrictions on our local authority to be removed.”

“The path to Baltimore controlling its own police department has been long, but it always bent towards a fully independent department that serves this City well,” said Dana Moore, Chief Equity Officer of Baltimore City and Co-Chair of the LCAB. “Today we can say with great enthusiasm that we have added a major step towards realizing this vision. The LCAB could not be more proud of its work, and that of the many community partners that helped us reach this milestone.”

“Today will memorialize the end of the fight that many advocates have  had for decades,” said Ashiah S. Parker, Co-Chair of the LCAB. “The ability for Baltimore to control its police department is a huge step for accountability and community based policing. Thank you to the LCAB for leading the way”

Council Bill 23-0445 is a charter amendment enshrining the Baltimore Police Department into the City’s Charter, and outlining a ballot measure that City residents will vote to do the same. Council Bill 23-0449 embeds BPD into the City’s Code, outlining defining the department, roles, requirements, and structure. Currently, these items can only be altered with action by the General Assembly. 

The pathway to local control has been led in large part by the Local Control Advisory Board. Established by an act of the General Assembly in 2021, the LCAB was charged with charting the course to establish local control. Their work is an extension of years of advocacy on the issue, bringing together elected officials, city government leaders, and advocates to work collaboratively to move this effort forward.

There remain two additional steps before full local control BPD can be established. First, the General Assembly must remove a section of Article II Section 27 of the Baltimore City Charter. There is a bill already introduced in the General Assembly by State Senator Cory McCray (District 45), which is widely expected to pass. Then, voters must approve the ballot measure outlined in Council Bill 23-0445 at the polls in November. Once those two pieces are finalized, the City of Baltimore will be granted authority over BPD for the first time in 164 years.

This newly re-established authority will allow the City of Baltimore to directly take action to ensure that the Police Department is operating at the highest level of efficacy to protect the residents it serves and implement policy changes. The passage of this legislation aligns with the Scott Administration’s work in prioritizing the implementation of Consent Decree recommendations and community-oriented law enforcement strategies that lead to deeper relationships and trust with the public.

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