Baltimore County's new police-data dashboards show public complaints seldom upheld

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Officials in Baltimore County, Maryland, last week launched two new dashboards to track complaints against police and incidents in which officers used force, with the ability to see demographic data about both people who filed complaints about police behavior, as well as the officers themselves.

The dashboards, which cover a period beginning in January 2017, includes statistics about the gender, race and years of service of police officers who have used force on the job, or have been the subject of complaints. They also include similar information about people who have filed those complaints or been the subject of police use of force.

The police complaint and use-of-force dashboards come a few months after the June launch of a site that gives Baltimore County residents access to crime data since 2017.

One of the sharpest revelations from the new dashboards is that complaints against officers are far more likely to be upheld when they are filed internally, rather than from members of the public. Of the 438 total complaints filed against Baltimore County Police officers since 2017, about half were found to have involved behavior that constituted a violation of state law or department rules.

But beneath that figure, the dashboard shows that two-thirds of administrative complaints were sustained, while just 11% of citizen-filed complaints were, leading some critics to suggest that there is much more work to be done to improve relations between Baltimore County Police and the communities they patrol.

“Ninety percent of the complaints made by civilians are not sustained and I think that fact is one reason among others as to why you also see a small number of complaints by civilians,” David Rocah, a senior attorney for the ACLU of Maryland, told the Baltimore Sun.

The dashboards were published as part of a police reform plan that Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski’s kicked off in June amid nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice. The sites themselves were developed by BCSTAT, a data-management program Olszewki launched in March to analyze data collected by county agencies.

“The Baltimore County Police Department continues to expand the resources and data available to the residents of the communities we serve,” Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt said in a press release. “The expansion of this data dashboard will provide greater transparency and serve as another building block towards the advancement of public trust.”

Olszewki and BCSTAT plan to release a public dashboard with data about the county’s traffic stops in the near future.

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Baltimore County, data dashboard, law enforcment
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