ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball has appointed seven members to a newly established Police Accountability Board (PAB), who were confirmed by the County Council this week.
I thank the inaugural members of this important board for their willingness to serve our community. Howard County’s Police Accountability Board will ensure transparency and engage our residents as partners in accountability. Each of these members will help us build trust between the Police Department and our community.
The appointed members are:
- Nellie Hutt, Chair, At-Large, an Administrative Law Judge and trial attorney.
- Brenda McChriston, At-Large, community advocate involved in Howard County’s Diversity Inclusion Committee and HCPSS Passport-to-the-Future program.
- Herman Charity, D1, retired HCPD Lieutenant and State’s Attorney’s Office Investigator.
- Arnettia Wyre, D2, an attorney and certified mediator and negotiator with 20 years.
- Ricardo Morales, D3, long-time Howard County resident active in community service.
- Paul Rivers, D4, spent nearly three decades with the U.S. Marshall Service and a former Marine active in veteran and mental health advocacy.
- James Gormley, D5, founding member of the Police Accountability Task Force and retired attorney with corporate and commercial compliance experience.
County Executive Ball has included nearly $200,000 in his Fiscal Year 2023 budget to support the Police Accountability Board. Once fully operational, the board will review the outcome of complaint investigations to determine discipline and identify trends that could improve policing. The board will also accept and forward complaints from citizens for investigation by the police and sheriff’s departments. Local authority establishing the board had been approved by the County Council and was required under a state law adopted in 2021.
“The Police Accountability Board will review the outcome of complaint investigations to help identify trends that impact policing,” said Police Chief Gregory Der. “While the number of complaints against the HCPD remains low, we are open to review and committed to transparency.”
The Board is made up of seven voting members, two at-large and one from each of the councilmanic districts. Appointed members must be county residents, at least 25 years old and have a committed interest and active involvement in Howard County community service. Members will have to undergo a criminal background check and sign a non-disclosure agreement as a condition of appointment. Police and Sheriff’s liaisons will facilitate any needed data, reports, or written directives, or to assist with understanding relevant policies and procedures.
“I thank the County Council for approving my appointment to the Police Accountability Board,” said PAB Chair Nellie Hutt. “I am honored to serve as Chair of the Board and I look forward to serving the Howard County community.”
“I am honored to have been nominated and appointed to the first Police Accountability Board for Howard County," said at-large member Brenda McChriston. "This is a great opportunity to be part of the inaugural Board where we can support our law enforcement and community simultaneously. I look forward to working with the new board members to address today’s challenges!”
“I am excited, humbled and very appreciative to have been nominated to the Police Accountability Board by Dr. Ball, and confirmed to this position by the County Council,” said D5 member James Gormley. “I very much look forward to the opportunity to contribute to the PAB’s work and to collaborate with fellow PAB members, County and Law Enforcement Agency leadership, and all other stakeholders, with the goal of continuous improvement in police accountability as a key component of effective policing in our County.”
“I look forward to serving our county via the Police Accountability Board,” said D3 member Ricardo Morales. “I am hopeful that with the support of the County Executive, the Board will have the authority required to exact change where it is needed.”
“I like to thank our county executive Dr. Ball, and the rest of the County Council for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this very important Board,” said D4 Member Paul Rivers. “I feel that the Police Accountability Board is one of the most important boards in the county, especially during the times we are living in. Accountability and transparency are important parts of our society. This board will be giving the community and law enforcement the opportunity to have fair and just treatment.”
“I am honored and humbled to have the opportunity to serve the community in this capacity. I look forward to working to enhance accountability, trust, and communication between the Police Department and the residents of Howard County,” said D2 member Arnettia Wyre. “There is important work to be undertaken and I am committed to making a significant purposeful impact.”
In addition to its quarterly meetings, the board will be required to meet with community youth representatives at least twice a year and appoint members to Charging Committees and Trial Boards. The board may receive complaints of police misconduct filed by members of the public and review outcomes of disciplinary matters considered by the Charging Committee. The board will also be required to submit an annual report to the County that identifies any trends in disciplinary action against law enforcement personnel and makes policy recommendations that would improve police accountability. Complaints of police misconduct filed with the board will be forwarded to the appropriate law enforcement agency within three business days after it is received. Per HB-670, the Maryland Police Accountability Act, these activities will begin on or after July 1, 2022.
The Police Accountability Board builds on County Executive Ball’s efforts to improve best practices in community policing. Last year, Ball signed a budget amendment releasing nearly $500,000 in County funding from contingency in the FY2022 operating budget for Howard County’s body-worn camera program. Ball also utilized $1.6 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) to provide funding for the body-worn camera program to be fully implemented ahead of the 2023 Maryland General Assembly mandate.