Despite Montgomery County's passage of a measure to reign in the police union’s powers, the controversy has found a new battleground—the courts.
A 2011 law, which Tuesday’s referendum upheld, strips the county police union of its 30-year-old power to negotiate any action by police leadership that has an “effect on employees.” That has been applied to include officer reassignments, disability guidelines, distributing equipment and how to implement a computerized system for writing reports.
FOP Lodge 35 successfully petitioned to put the law to referendum, where it appeared on Election Day as Question B.
After a contentious campaign that grew especially heated in the weeks before Nov. 6, voters affirmed Question B by a nearly 17 percent margin—211,213 votes for and 150,459 votes against.
But the day before, FOP representatives sued County Executive Isiah Leggett and his spokesman Patrick Lacefield in Montgomery County Circuit Court. The lawsuit alleges that Leggett and Lacefield improperly used county funds and resources to advocate for Question B, including a Web site, ads on RideOn buses and paying county employees to hand out flyers at the polls on Election Day.
The lawsuit asks that Leggett and Lacefield personally repay the expense.
“I’m not intimidated by it,” Leggett told The Gazette.
In the weeks before Election Day, Maryland State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt investigated the issue and found that the county government was acting in good faith, according to the advice of County Attorney Marc Hansen, The Examiner reported.
Saying that “the issue will undoubtedly arise again,” Davitt asked Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler to weigh in, reported Maryland Juice.
The FOP lawsuit is set for a scheduling hearing in February.