A comprehensive package of police reform measures was cleared by the Maryland General Assembly on Wednesday, including the lifting of police protections that have long been described as the barricade of accountability. Julio Cortez / AP hide caption
Julio Cortez / AP
Julio Cortez / AP
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) – Maryland lawmakers on Saturday voted to override Republican Governor Larry Hogan’s vetoes over three sweeping police reform measures that proponents believe are needed to increase accountability and confidence Restore publicity.
One of the measures removes the protection of jobs in police disciplinary proceedings, which critics say impede accountability. Maryland passed the country’s first law enforcement officers’ Bill of Rights in 1974, and about 20 states have passed similar laws establishing a due process for investigating police wrongdoing. Maryland is the first to repeal the law and replace it with new procedures that give civilians a role in police disciplinary proceedings.
The democratically controlled General Assembly has been working on reforms for months after nationwide protests against racial injustices were fueled almost a year ago by the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minnesota.
“Last year I took part in several demonstrations by people calling for change – young and old, people of all races and walks of life,” said Senator Charles Sydnor, a Democrat who sponsored one of the measures. “With so many situations before our eyes, we could no longer deny what we were seeing, and I thank my colleagues for believing their eyes and listening to the majority of Marylanders.”
Opponents said the measures went too far. The package includes provisions to increase the civil liability limit for police claims from $ 400,000 to $ 890,000. An officer convicted of severe violence or death from excessive violence faces a prison sentence of 10 years.
Senator Robert Cassilly, a Republican, described the legislation as “anti-cop”.
“It allows for a retrospective review of the people sitting in the armchairs to assess people who have made split-second decisions in volatile situations,” said Cassilly when an officer fears for his life and the lives of others.
Hogan also vetoed the legislation by mandating a new nationwide use of force policy and nationwide use of body cameras through July 2025.
Another veto measure would increase public access to records in police disciplinary cases and limit the use of arrest warrants without knocking. According to the law, the police could only use arrest warrants between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., except in an emergency.
In his veto message, Hogan wrote that he believed the measures would “further undermine police morale, community relations and public confidence”.
“They will do great harm to police recruitment and retention and pose a significant risk to public safety across our state,” Hogan wrote.
But Senator Jill Carter, a Baltimore Democrat, said the erosion of public confidence will come if nothing is done after local residents file complaints against the police, who “are then able to retaliate on the complaint with.” the full knowledge that there will be no transparency there. ” There will be no public announcement and there will be no impact. “
“It’s an extremely important step in the right direction,” said Carter, who sponsored the bill to improve public access to police disciplinary records.
The measure is named after Anton Black, a 19-year-old African American who died in police custody in a rural town on the east coast of Maryland in 2018.
Maryland has struggled with police accountability issues in recent years. The Baltimore Police Department issued a federal consent decree after Freddie Gray suffered a broken neck while in police custody and sparked rioting in the city in 2015. Legislators approved some police reforms the following year, but critics said they were not enough.
Hogan wrote that two measures would take effect without his signature.
One of them would set up a unit in the attorney general’s office to investigate police deaths and prohibit law enforcement from buying surplus military equipment. The other would allow Baltimore voters to choose whether the state’s largest city should take full control of the state’s police force.
Separately on Saturday, the legislature also overruled Hogan’s veto against a law that bans life imprisonment without probation for young people.