After reading our report about police department transparency compliance failures in Montgomery County, activist John Appiah-Duffell decided it might as well be him to challenge the City of Rockville about its police department’s own failure. The Rockville PD had not got a key fact on its brutality complaint form right: they listed the deadline to file as 90 days, when the correct deadline is 366 day.
So on Monday evening, that’s what he did. Here are some excerpts from his brief comments, which can be read in full here:
If you venture down the rabbit hole of the “general orders” section of the Rockville police department website, you will find that the correct timeframe of 366 days is listed. However, the actual form required to file a complaint, which is offered for download on the “Forms and Requests” page, contains the following instruction—and I’ll hand copies out to you in a moment—“If you are filing a brutality complaint, state law requires that your complaint MUST be sworn to and filed within 90 days of the alleged incident.” This is not only false, but even if unintentional, it is an illegal deterrent to complaints, and it needs to be corrected. The transparency law went into effect on October 1 of last year–114 days ago. It is conceivable that someone sought to exercise their legal right of complaint in the past 114 days and was given the false impression that their complaint was invalid. […]
I just want to say that accountability and oversight are good things. They are not a sign of mistrust, but on the contrary, are an essential part of ensuring the public’s trust is earned. Again, this is current state law, and I just ask that my mayor and council exercise their responsibility of oversight to ensure the Rockville Police department is in compliance with the law. Thank you so much for your time.
Both councilmembers and (later) the police chief thanked him for his comments, and, more to the point, the form has now been corrected.
The police chief explained that while paper copies of the form were correct, the change had not been made to the online version of the form. Mr. Appiah-Duffell also relayed the news that Rockville PD in fact has no bargaining agreement — so there’s nothing to report. We will correct both items, and will also check whether this is the case for Chevy Chase, Gaithersburg, and other cities where we failed to find a posted agreement.
Thank you John!!! And great work!!! This was fine activism and an excellent public comment — succinct, well-researched, reasonable, respectful — but utterly insistent. We hope other citizens of Montgomery County and P.G. County will take a page from John and challenge their own city councils and police departments when they’ve fallen short. You might well be pleasantly surprised how much your comments will matter.