Given the history of police cover-ups and their unwillingness, too often, to discipline their own, I suggest that civilian participation in such Boards is essential. As Sir Robert Peel pointed out two centuries ago, confidence in and cooperation with the police is essential for their effectiveness.
Excerpts from the Article:
Baltimore’s mayor said Wednesday she will renew a push to add two civilians to police trial boards after a board of three officers ruled that a police van driver violated no policies when a black man was fatally injured inside his van.
The death of Freddie Gray in 2015 a week after he was injured during a police van ride sparked riots and reform efforts in the state capital, but police union opposition has kept civilians off such panels in Baltimore, even as civilians join police in handling complaints in other cities.
“I do think it’s fair to have citizens sitting on the trial board, so we’ll be back in Annapolis asking for the two citizens on the trial board,” Mayor Catherine Pugh said, a day after the officers unanimously found Officer Caesar Goodson not guilty of 21 charges of violating department policies.
In response to the Gray case, Maryland lawmakers changed the law to enable local jurisdictions to put civilians on police trial boards if they choose, but in Baltimore, the reform has stalled in collective bargaining negotiations. The mayor wants the General Assembly to require civilian board membership in the city.
Opponents say these boards have the power to ruin an officer’s career, so the people on them need a professional’s understanding of policing.
Sean Malone, an attorney who represented Goodson and has tried police disciplinary cases as both a prosecutor and defense counsel, said the resistance isn’t so much to civilians being on boards, but to having people on them who don’t have a background in police work.
“You just want educated, fair people who understand the nature of the police work, and if you get that, you’re going to get fair results whichever way it sorts out,” Malone said.
“I don’t think you can trust justice can be served under the current arrangement,” Grandpre said.