Bryan Sears’ recent article, “County Changes Police Promotions Exam as Federal Review Looms”, raises ethical questions concerning the appointment of Del. Adrienne Jones on a panel that interviews prospective candidates for promotion.
Other issues concern Chief Johnson’s statements involving his own navigation through the system that he is changing as well as his failure to address the recruitment and promotion of our rising Hispanic, Middle Eastern and Asian populations.
Regarding the appointment of Del. Jones to the promotional panel, I received information that her appointment may involve certain ethical questions. In an effort to establish the ethical issues over these concerns, I contacted University of Maryland Law Professor Abraham Dash and posed the ethical issues surrounding this appointment by Chief Johnson.
Professor Dash stated, “It would be unethical for a legislator to participate in the promotion and hiring decisions of executive employees.” Professor Dash further stated that “this is a violation of the separation of powers from the legislature being involved in executive decisions.”
In addition Professor Dash said that even though the elected official may be as ethical as she can be, there is a serious problem from the viewpoint of the employee seeking promotion that they may feel pressure to make a campaign contribution or give other assistance to the official.
The professor made this comment in response to a quote from Bryan’s article from police spokeswoman Elise Armacost who stated, "Like the sworn members of the oral exam board, (Jones) is a professional of the highest integrity. We know without question that she and the other panelists take this responsibility extremely seriously and will make sound decisions based on the qualifications of the candidates."
Another quote from Bryan’s article also raises additional concerns: "We don't even know what (the Department of Justice's) concerns are at this point," Armacost said. "Nonetheless, the continued diversification of our work force is a major goal for Baltimore County public safety."
There is no mention of the impacts on our rising Hispanic, Middle Eastern or Asian populations. That issue alone draws into question the validity of the entire matter of racial bias. The entire focus is on the black issue when in fact the county is made up of many more races, according to recent census figures.
FOP President Cole Weston questions the motivation for the change with his comment, "I have not determined the motivation of the administration as to why this change was instituted."
Weston was referring to the process instituted by Chief Neil Behan which brought in outside law enforcement personnel in the promotion process to eliminate any potential bias.
Chief Johnson’s promotion for major was done before the department’s colonels and his appointment to colonel was done in front of then-Chief Terry Sheridan, according to departmental sources that spoke on condition of anonymity.
My suggestion would be that the department bring in qualified professionals from IACP (International Association of Chiefs of Police) to review and recommend changes to the system.