We have waited far too long for access to police misconduct records. Your constituents worked tirelessly for years to convince state lawmakers to pass Anton's Law, which gives members of the public the ability to obtain records of police misconduct investigations using the Maryland Public Information Act. Now, we need you to make take action to defend that legislative victory in Montgomery County.
Timely access to police records is essential to the transparency and accountability required by Anton's Law and other policing reforms enacted by the Maryland General Assembly.
Sadly, earlier this year, County Executive Marc Elrich signed a Memorandum of Agreement with our local police union, the FOP, Lodge 35, which contradicts the letter and intent of Anton's Law. The agreement gives the FOP 10 days advance notice before misconduct records are released so that they can have an opportunity to block the release of records that the public is entitled to receive.
In fact, in a recent case, the FOP has filed suit to block the release of records requested by a community member who sought information about complaints filed against an officer who had been the subject of a sustained complaint she had filed years earlier. The FOP's arguments, if accepted by the court, would completely undermine Anton's Law, block access to all records compiled before Anton's Law was passed, and block access to the vast majority of the records that Anton's Law made newly accessible.
Between 2017 and 2021, there were more than 1,255 civilian complaints of police misconduct in Montgomery County. The department's internal review process decided that in almost all of these cases, 98 percent, the officer's actions were "justified." The police have proven time and time again, they cannot be trusted to hold themselves accountable.
Black and Brown constituents, who the police disproportionately abuse and kill, have their rights violated again when police misconduct records are hidden and covered up.
Please terminate the MOA so that our community members can obtain proper access to police misconduct cases as intended by Anton’s Law.