The Ecker administration in Howard County has been advised that creation of a civilian review board to examine complaints against county police is unnecessary. But while a review board isn't needed, an advisory group concluded, the administration should gather some "citizen input" for police training, recruitment and interviewing methods.
The counsel hardly Solomonesque, neither profound nor awe-inspiring. But that's as specific as these advisers got. Their work, which began in January, was marred by polarized charges and countercharges of inattention by some task force members, poor attendance and some members being too hard or too soft on police. The response to a well-intentioned, albeit ineffective, survey of public opinion didn't help. The non-scientific survey showed that most of about 1,800 respondents were overwhelmingly satisfied with the county police. More significantly, some 15,000 countians who had been sent the survey with their water bills and in free newspapers didn't bother to reply.
Recently, 10 of the advisory group's original 22 members voted 6-4 against recommending a civilian review group. The few hard-core proponents of civilian review are predictably unhappy; opponents seem equally pleased. The middle ground consists of a considerable amount of public ennui.