Baltimore mayor makes Office of Civil Rights independent to avoid police conflict of interest
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Baltimore has a new mayor, and things are already changing for “Charm City”.
The city’s new mayor, Bernard C. “Jack” Young, announced on Tuesday the Baltimore Office of Civil Rights will now be a standalone agency, the Baltimore Sun reported.
The decision came about due to concerns of potential conflicts of interest between the board that investigates police misconduct and the attorneys involved.
“The public perception of independence is critical,” Young said at a news conference when discussing the new change.
One reason for the separation of the two is reportedly because the city’s law office also represents police officers in misconduct cases.
The offices previous director, Jill P. Carter, who was appointed to the state senate agrees with the mayor’s choice. “The staff from this office must be free to conduct unbiased investigations,” Carter told reporters Tuesday. “The executive leadership must be unencumbered by politics within city government and the boards and commissions must be permitted to act in the best interest of the people of Baltimore that they serve,” she said.
Carter also believes citizens should have the right to outside counsel if needed.“People must be able to trust that their claims will be fairly and vigilantly investigated and decisions made with integrity without conflict or political influence,” she said.
The board’s function is to hear complaints from civilians and conduct investigations of alleged police misconduct.