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Review of Police Disciplinary Procedures in Maryland and Other States

NCJ Number
Jeanne E. Bilanin
Date Published
June 1999
141 pages
This document discusses how the provisions of Maryland law regarding law enforcement disciplinary procedures have been implemented.
Maryland law concerning police disciplinary procedures appears under the subtitle "Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights" (LEOBR) in Article 27, Sections 727 through 734D of the Annotated Code of Maryland. The statute covers two major components of the disciplinary process: (1) the conduct of internal investigations of complaints that may lead to a recommendation of disciplinary action against a police officer; and (2) procedures that must be followed once an investigation results in a recommendation that an officer be disciplined. The study methodology involved a review of the statutes in all 50 States and the District of Columbia and a mail survey of the 117 police agencies in Maryland that were subject to LEOBR. One hundred and six police agencies responded to the survey. The results show that, overall, Maryland's LEOBR statute compares well to the laws of other States in providing protections to police officers facing the possibility of disciplinary action. Maryland's statute extends uniform protections to officers in a broad list of local and State police agencies, addresses both investigations and resulting disciplinary actions, contains extensive protections during internal investigations, covers all types of disciplinary actions, and specifies a hearing board composed of sworn officers. Only a few other State statutes contain all these features, and only one statute -- Rhode Island's -- appears to be more flexible to officers than Maryland's. The provisions of Maryland's law that may be viewed as accommodating police officers are offset by provisions that may be viewed as accommodating management: the chief's selection of all hearing board members and the chief's authority to overrule the hearing board's recommendation regarding punishment. The survey of Maryland agencies reveals that the chief's selection power is often mitigated by collective bargaining agreements or by the policies and procedures of individual agencies, and that the chief's authority to overrule hearing board recommendations is invoked in only a small percentage of cases. 6 appendices