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Manger v. Fraternal Order of Police, Inc.

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

February 25, 2016

J. THOMAS MANGER, et al.
v.
FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY LODGE 35, INC

Page 896

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. Joseph M. Quirk, JUDGE

         ARGUED BY: Erin J. Ashbarry (Marc P. Hansen, County Attorney, Edward B. Lattner, Chief Division of Government Operations on the brief) all of Rockville, FOR APPELLANT

         ARGUED BY: Margo Pave (Zwerdling, Paul, Kahn & Wolly, PC on the brief) all of Washington, D.C. FOR APPELLEE

         ARGUED BEFORE Wright, Arthur, Zarnoch, Robert A., (Retired, Specially Assigned), JJ. Opinion by Zarnoch, J.

          OPINION

Page 897

         [227 Md.App. 144] Zarnoch, J.

          The Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights (" LEOBR" ), enacted in 1974 and presently codified at Maryland Code (2003, 2011 Repl. Vol.), § § 3-101 through -113 of the Public Safety Article (" P.S." ), provides procedural protections for law enforcement officers under internal investigation. At issue in this appeal is the requirement that a police department keep a " complete record" of any interrogation of a police officer facing potential disciplinary proceedings. See P.S. § 3-104(k).

          [227 Md.App. 145] In late 2014, appellant, the Montgomery County Police Department (" MCPD" or the " Department" ) altered its interrogation policy to utilize video recording technology to keep a complete record of interrogations of officers. When three officers were notified that they had been scheduled for interrogation, appellee, the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 35 (the " FOP" ), filed a show cause petition on behalf of the officers in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County to enjoin the Department from keeping a video record of the interrogations. After a hearing, the circuit court found in favor of the FOP, ordered the officers' interrogations to proceed without video recording, and issued an injunction

Page 898

prohibiting video recording of other officer interrogations.

         The Department appealed and presents one question for our review:

Does the LEOBR's requirement that a law enforcement agency keep a " complete record" of its interrogation of a law enforcement officer, which " may be written, taped, or transcribed," limit the law enforcement agency to using audio tape and forbid the law enforcement agency from using video tape to record the interrogation?

         Because we find nothing in the LEOBR that bars a police department from using a video recorder to keep a complete record of an interrogation conducted pursuant to the LEOBR, we reverse the judgment of the circuit court.

         BACKGROUND

         Three police officers employed by Montgomery County Police Department came under internal investigation in early 2015, after an arrestee filed a complaint against them. Before this investigation began, J. Thomas Manger, Chief of Police for the MCPD, in a memorandum dated November 24, 2014, directed the Internal Affairs Division to begin " video as well as audio recording of interrogations pursuant to LEOBR Sec. 3-104(k)(2)." Prior to this time, interrogations were audio recorded only. Before the interrogation could take place, the FOP filed a show cause petition in the circuit court on behalf [227 Md.App. 146] of the three officers under investigation.[1] The contested provision, ยง 3-104(k), ...


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