Community members/organizations weigh in on Wico. Co. Council’s PAB legislation, push for independence
SALISBURY, Md. – Tuesday night, the Wicomico County Council heard from the community about police reform legislation regarding the county’s Police Accountability Board now required by state law.
There was a packed house Tuesday, with many advocates focused on trying to bring transparency, accountability, and representation to the county’s Police Accountability Board. Many had ‘Police Accountability Now’ buttons on their garments, with the ACLU Maryland of the Eastern Shore present, reading a letter sent to the council with proposed revisions of the legislation’s first draft.
Last year, lawmakers passed the Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 which requires every jurisdiction to establish its own police accountability boards. We’re told that Tuesday night’s turnout packed house was proof that accountability is the top priority.
“So I think its quite clear that the community wants to see these reforms adopted and we hope the council decides to do it,” Organizer for the ACLU of Maryland Eastern Shore Jared Schablein said.
“What are we doing as engaged citizens to ensure that we’re upholding accountability. Not just for our law enforcement but to ensure this body, this independent body group fan function cautiously, constantly, and effectively,” President of Salisbury University’s NAACP Chapter Dorien Rogers said.
Now some of those changes to the proposed legislation include more open communication with the board and representation across different gender identities, races, and ethnicities. Yet, a big talking point was allowing those with a prior criminal background a seat at the table.
“They have a perspective that many of us don’t have. They have perspective and a voice that they can offer to such a board so that we can see things differently,” Wicomico County Resident Monica Brooks said.
“Most of us look at things from the lens of our own experience, right? I’ve never gone to prison, never gone to jail, or been arrested. I don’t have that lens. But someone has, and I’m not saying we get someone who just committed a crime the other day.”
Now there were some opposed present at the meeting.
“If you want to change policing as the end product, I suggest you go to the academy and walk their walk,” one community member said.
According to the Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021, Wicomico County’s Police Accountability Board must be active by July 1st.