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Former Somerset Co. President of NAACP Calls Ferguson Protests 'Disappointing'

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PRINCESS ANNE, Md.- Violent protests in Ferguson, Mo. over a grand jury's decision to not indict a police officer, who shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown, has some people thinking about ways improve relationship between law enforcement agencies and communities on Delmarva.

Images of rage, spilling into the streets if Ferguson, Mo. last night were difficult for Kirkland Hall, lifetime member of the NAACP to watch. Hall served as president of Somerset County's chapter twice, and he has been a member for more than 30 years.

"I was disappointed with the looting. I'm disappointed with the burning, the rioting; I'm disappointed," Hall said.

Despite disappointment, Hall said he understands why frustration turned violent in Ferguson.

"Until there is another avenue for the small people in this country to get results, then what else can they result to?" he said.
 
In the past, Hall said civic leaders in Somerset County have worked closely with police, and it is the type of relationship Wicomico County State's Attorney Matthew Maciarello spoke about Monday.

Maciarello wants to bring a Citizens Complaint Oversight Panel to the county. Similar to other jurisdictions, like Prince George's County, members of the panel would be experts in the medical, legal, and law enforcement fields. Also, he would like to see all law enforcement agencies equipped with body cameras.

"Our preliminary research indicates that it would be helpful in our community to have a independent board review of complaints that are investigated by internal affairs offices, Maciarello said.

 “I felt that we were kind of spinning our wheels in terms of not actually coming up with solutions of how we can build trust between the communities and these are just two proposals that move the ball forward towards doing a better job of facilitating those relationships,” he said.

However, not everyone is onboard with the idea.

"Maybe they [police] do need some oversight, but as far as criticizing and critiquing everything the law enforcement does; that's just going to lead to bigger problems," said one resident, who did not want his name disclosed for personal reasons.

Hall said he supports the idea of bringing an oversight panel to Somerset County.

Maciarello will take his proposal to the County Executive, who will be responsible for approving the process for obtaining a police oversight panel. He said a Blue Ribbon panel, comprised of members who will review studies and determine how much that panel would cost, would be the first step.

If approved, legislation would have to be created to push the measure through.
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