The workload for a state-mandated system of processing allegations of wrongdoing by police officers has begun in Calvert County.
During the Calvert County Police Accountability Board’s September meeting, the panel’s chairman, Wilson A. Parran, reported three citizen complaints of sheriff’s deputies have been received. Parran said each complaint alleges a false arrest.
Two complaints were received on Aug. 10 while a third was submitted on Aug. 17. The complaints, according to Parran, were forwarded to the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office for internal affairs investigations.
For each complaint, “The results of that investigation would go to the administrative charging committee for deliberation.”
Specific details of the complaints were not divulged during the meeting.
During the Sept. 14 session, the police accountability board also received presentations, including one from Cindy Allen, a human resource analyst serving as a liaison to the board, regarding the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
Allen explained that in 1979 four national police organizations started the commission, which writes standards for best practices by law enforcement agencies. She said local law enforcement agencies that complete the commission’s rigorous accreditation policies “must live by standards and procedures” that are determined by the national organization.
Participation is strictly voluntary.
“It’s not a ‘gotcha’ organization,” said Allen, who added that one of the aspects of the profession the commission looks at is “arrest and patrol procedures.”
The Calvert sheriff’s office received full CALEA accreditation 2010, a process that took four years. However, that accreditation lapsed in 2016.
During another presentation, sheriff’s Capt. Brent Parrott, who leads the local agency’s office of professional standards (internal affairs), said the decision not to seek reaccreditation with the national commission was made by Sheriff Mike Evans (R).
“It’s very time-consuming,” Parrott said of the accreditation process and subsequent compliance. The captain noted a manpower issue within the sheriff’s office, which currently has 168 sworn deputies.
Parrott added that Charles County’s sheriff’s office, which has more personnel, is accredited.
During his presentation, Parrott explained the sheriff’s office’s complaint investigation process. After assessment, an investigator is assigned to the case and the complainant is notified.
Parrott stated his office “conducts/reviews investigations for consistency and fairness, and strives to accomplish these tasks with professionalism, integrity, compassion and respect.”
He explained the “mediation component” available in the process, noting that Calvert is the first law enforcement agency in Maryland “to go to that.”
The mediator, said Parrott, is a third party seeking a “resolution” rather than going through the complaint process.
Both the complainant and the officer who is being investigated must agree to the resolution method. Going the mediation route, Parrott explained, concludes the internal investigation.
Cases involving allegations of “excessive force” are not eligible for mediation, due to criminal and civil liability overtones, Parrott explained. He conceded there have been complaints that were mediated that were not resolved satisfactorily.
As to an investigation’s conclusion, Parrott said, “If disciplinary action is recommended and the deputy does not accept the recommended penalty, then the matter is referred to a trial board for final disposition. After case adjudication, a final letter is sent to the citizen complainant notifying them of the outcome of the investigation, to include the case finding and, if applicable, the administered disciplinary action.”
Calvert’s five-member administrative charging committee also met on Sept. 14, its first session ever. The third panel mandated by the state legislature, the trial board, will meet as needed. It will convene to hear a charged officer’s appeal of disciplinary action. The trial board currently has two members.