19 November 2022

Turning Police Transparency into a Sham

Baltimore County has gutted the section of the 2021 Maryland Police Accountability Act (Anton's Law) dealing with police records, by giving the officer in question 5 days to review the request and file an objection to stop its release.

With the help of a PBA lawyer, you can be certain that every single request for disciplinary records will be objected to:

Under new Baltimore County Police policies, officers whose disciplinary records are requested under the Maryland Public Information Act as well as the union representing police will be notified of such requests within two business days.

The officer and a designated representative — an attorney or member of the Fraternal Order of Police lodge, for example — will then be permitted to review the documents five days before they are released to the requester.

And the officer or representative will be able to object to the records’ release and file a “reverse MPIA” in the state court system.


Anton’s Law advocates have serious concerns about Baltimore County’s policy, which is similar to a Montgomery County agreement that is the subject of ongoing litigation.

David Rocah, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Maryland, called the policies a concerted effort to “gut” transparency and accountability provisions in Anton’s Law and said they are “explicitly aimed at facilitating” reverse PIA lawsuits he called improper.


Baltimore County Police said this week in response to questions from The Sun that the FOP has the opportunity to review policy changes under its agreement with the county and that it “was done in this case.” 

So, they knuckled under to the police union, which is implacably opposed to transparency and accountability for police officers. 

The FOP will literally have a lawyer on speed dial who will file an objection within minutes of any request being made.


Anton’s Law went into effect more than a year ago on Oct. 1, 2021.

It is named for Anton Black, who died in 2018 at age 19 shortly after a physical altercation in which police officers fired a Taser at him, pinned him down, cuffed him and stayed on top of him for almost six minutes. One of the officers involved in Black’s death, Thomas Webster IV, did not disclose use-of-force reports from his previous job in Delaware; his law enforcement certification was later revoked.

There were about 30 use of force incidents on his record, including assault charges, which Webster did not disclose when applying for a certification in Maryland.

Any cop who is opposed to even these most basic accountability measures should not be allowed to carry a badge, or own a gun, even in a civilian capacity.


Jim Harmon said...

"The nine year old girl was smoking a joint. I feared for my life, haw haw haw." -- Captain ACAB, The Laughing Policeman.

Matthew Saroff said...

Is that from a movie?

Jim Harmon said...

Not exactly. The Laughing Policeman is a 1973 movie starring Walter Matthau, Bruce Dern, and Lou Gossett. The rest of my comment was made up by me based on many different instances of police misconduct.

Post a Comment