Police-involved fatalities to be investigated by new office in Maryland

Maryland has a new office responsible for investigating police-involved fatalities, part of the sweeping police reform passed by the state legislature earlier this year.

Dana Mulhauser, a 12-year Department of Justice veteran and longtime public servant, is in charge of this new office that will investigate all alleged or potential police-involved deaths.

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The Independent Investigations Unit, as it will be called, will begin its work Oct. 1 of this year. The unit was established as part of the Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021.

"The office has jurisdiction to investigate in conjunction with the Maryland State Police all officer-involved fatalities in the state of Maryland," Mulhauser says. "And so, our brief is to help supervise and coordinate the investigation. We do have grand jury authority, which means not only can we put witnesses in the grand jury but...We have the ability to obtain documents using the grand jury authority."

Once the investigation is complete, Mulhauser's office will submit a written report to the local state's attorney's office.

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According to Washington Post data, Black Americans are disproportionately affected by police violence. Mulhauser says that is part of her consideration in building out her office.

"It is a real priority for us you know. I grew up in a community of color," Mu[lhauser said. "I grew up in a city that is majority Black, and I understand that's not my background but the best I can do and what I can prioritize to do is to listen to people, to talk to people, to hire people, to work with people, to respect people's opinions experience and backgrounds and to know I am only part of a larger community." 

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Mulhauser works with officers frequently and emphasized how well-trained they are. She said they are still working on some of the details for her office, but she hopes to be able to contribute to that training and education.