Skip to main content

Press Releases - County Council

Councilmember Jawando Introduces the Law Enforcement Trust and Transparency Act: Provides Independence and Accountability in Police-Involved Death Investigations

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, January 15, 2019

ROCKVILLE, Md., Jan. 15, 2019—Today Councilmember Will Jawando introduced Bill 1-19, Police Officer Involved Death - Independent Investigation, also known as the Law Enforcement Trust and Transparency (LETT) Act. The goal of the legislation is to ensure that when a police officer is involved in the death of an individual, investigations into that officer’s conduct are independent, impartial and transparent. The LETT Act serves to eliminate potential conflicts of interest and help improve the public’s trust in law enforcement.

“Directing an independent review of police actions, when an officer is involved in the death of a resident, will protect both the integrity of the inquiry and the civil rights of our residents, especially those of color,” Councilmember Jawando said. “An independent criminal investigation guards against bias, and the perception of bias. This bill serves all involved -- our officers, the prosecutors and our residents.”

Under the LETT Act, when an officer is involved in the death of an individual, at least two experienced investigators from an independent law enforcement entity will open an inquiry reviewing the circumstances of the case. If the decision is against filing charges, the LETT Act requires that the independent report be released to the public.

“Transparency and accountability are essential to fair and equitable treatment of investigations into police conduct, especially when someone’s lost their life,” Jawando said. “Montgomery County is not immune to police-involved shootings, with the June 11, 2018 shooting death of Robert White, a 41-year-old Silver Spring resident killed in a parking lot near his home during a confrontation with an officer.”

Councilmember Jawando is the lead sponsor of the LETT Act. Councilmembers Rice, Riemer, Albornoz and Council President Navarro have signed on as cosponsors. While the State’s Attorney has an agreement with Howard County to consider criminal prosecution of officers involved in deaths, the LETT act would require a criminal investigation conducted by independent law enforcement entity. This is a change from current practice where Montgomery County Police conduct the initial criminal investigation their own officers. Illinois, Utah and Wisconsin have enacted similar laws.

A public hearing on Bill 1-19 is tentatively scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on March 5. Additional information and the full text of the bill can be found at https://tinyurl.com/y7e9kwjs.

Councilmember Jawando’s remarks upon the introduction of the LETT Act can be viewed at https://tinyurl.com/JawandoLettAct.

# # # 

Release ID: 19-013
Media Contact: Sonya Healy 240-777-7926 , Juan Jovel 240-777-7931