The University of Maryland Police Department released its 2018 Internal Affairs Annual Report last month, an annual self-assessment of the department’s conduct, use of force, traffic accidents and property loss.
Last year, police conducted 11 internal investigations into allegations of officer misconduct, 14 use of force reviews, 16 traffic accident reviews and 14 lost or damaged departmental property reviews, according to the report.
The report is necessary for the department to maintain its Advanced Law Enforcement Accreditation with the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. CALEA bills itself as “The Gold Standard in Public Safety.”
“It’s our way, given the size of our department with our gold standard, to say ‘Here’s the deal, we’re as transparent as we can be, and this is what we do,’” said David Mitchell, the department’s chief.
Of the 11 internal investigations that were conducted last year, four focused on officers who were involved in preventable traffic accidents, two on officers who missed training or were late for work, two on “inappropriate behavior” or “discourteous statements” and two on lost or damaged departmental property.
The last investigation — the only one that went to court — focused on an allegation of domestic-related assault and battery of a non-sworn employee. The employee was found not guilty in criminal court, according to the report.
The department conducts its investigations in accordance with Maryland’s Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights, and does not provide specific details regarding the investigations in its report.
“We’re not going to give you the entire investigative file on somebody because it’s against personnel law,” Mitchell said. “We’ll summarize the complaint and tell you what we did basically, but we won’t give you the officer’s name.”
The report also summarizes the 14 use of force reviews that resulted from the 75,287 contacts police made with residents last year.
Uses of forces are categorized in the report by firearms pointed at persons during high-risk incidents, long gun deployments, OC spray deployment (OC being Oleoresin Capsicum an active ingredient in pepper spray), baton strike and other uses of physical force, such as strikes, kicks and takedowns.
Although there were 14 use of force incidents, 24 different officers were involved, and a total of 30 individual uses of force stemmed from those 14 incidents.
One incident can have multiple individual uses of force. For example, during high-risk traffic stops — such as when a vehicle’s tags are flagged as stolen or the vehicle’s owner has an outstanding arrest warrant — University Police are trained to order occupants out of the car with guns drawn to avoid being placed in a potentially deadly situation, said Sgt. Ed McDermott, the department’s Internal Affairs Coordinator.
Each individual firearm being deployed is reviewed as an individual incident, McDermott said. If an officer is involved in multiple uses of force during a single incident, McDermott said that each use of force will be reviewed.
“If [an officer] pointed his weapon, puts his weapon away, and then goes hands on and does a takedown, and then punches a guy in the face — well, we’re going to look at three of those,” McDermott said.
Mitchell noted that of the more than 75,000 police contacts made, officers had only 19 individual uses of force of pointing their firearm at someone.
“I don’t want to diminish it,” he said. “I want to say it’s seldom. It’s very seldom.”
The internal affairs report also states that in the 16 traffic accident reviews conducted, officers failed to comply with some aspect of agency rules or regulation seven times.
In 14 reviews of lost, stolen and/or damaged departmental property, no employees were found responsible and none were disciplined, the report states.
The report also provides information about employees who are identified through the department’s Early Identification System — a computer-generated warning system that identifies changes in an officer’s behavior, such as the sudden use of sick leave, an officer who has multiple injuries or complaints, or a sudden drop-off in activity, such as an officer who is not making traffic stops.
Mitchell said the system aims to help resolve potential issues before they become more serious problems. But no officer was involved in EIS reviews last year, according to the report. Had they been, they would have received additional counseling and training, as well as both professional and personal assistance, the report states.
University Police said that because CALEA does not regulate the format of their internal affairs report, they are continually tweaking to determine the best dissemination of data possible.
“This is a living document,” said Deputy Chief David Lloyd. “It does change slightly from year to year — trying to account, trying to refine it, trying to make it clear and understandable for those who are looking at it on a regular basis. It does get tweaked slightly for those purposes.”