Transparency and Oversight in Claims and Litigation “Gag-Order” Ordinance

At the Council meeting on July 22, Council President Scott and Councilwoman Sneed introduced an ordinance entitled “Transparency and Oversight in Claims and Litigation.” The bill would prohibit the use of non-disclosure provisions in settlement agreements for police misconduct and unlawful discrimination claims filed against Baltimore City. It would also require the City’s Law Department to publish information about claims filed.

For years, survivors of police misconduct have been required to not speak as a condition of their settlements. This decision opens the door for people to overtly speak their truth and begin to heal from past trauma. I have always been an advocate for transparency, fairness, and integrity between city government and the citizens it serves; this is a step in the right direction.

The ordinance has been in the works since the fall and is the result of collaboration with advocates, such as the ACLU of Maryland. On July 11, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in the Overbey v. Mayor of Baltimore case, found the Baltimore Police Department’s practice requiring victims of police brutality and misconduct to sign non-disclosure agreements to be unconstitutional.