As the nation’s eyes look towards accountability for the murder of George Floyd on the national level, we know that no community is immune to the long overdue need for police reform. Our criminal justice system has been broken for a long time. These issues and dynamics are complex, arising from the historical roots of racist systems for which no singular policy change can immediately remediate. Communities have too often felt over-policed, yet underserved. Although we have made efforts towards equality and justice, these reforms have led to woefully insufficient results. As a state, we cannot claim to have done enough to reform policing and the criminal justice system without looking at the underlying issues that have gotten us here in the first place. While we work to find these solutions, it is important to recognize that systemic change is required to ensure that police departments uphold their duty to protect and serve.
This week, the General Assembly took historic steps to create meaningful change and reform policing for generations to come. These bills that will fundamentally improve policing are a result of the tireless work of advocates who believe that law enforcement should serve all Marylanders fairly and justly. The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee held hearings over the past six months so that we could receive meaningful input from constituents, stakeholders, and organizations.
I am thankful for the hard work of my Chairman, Will Smith, my colleagues on the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, as well as the President of the Senate, Bill Ferguson and my Senate colleagues who have put hundreds of hours into crafting these policies. The resulting package is centered on the core values of trust, transparency, and accountability. It will build safer communities, which will also ensure that officers are safer when engaging with the people they are sworn to protect.
The bills include
: a repeal of the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights, (LEOBR); restrictions on no-knock warrants and surplus military equipment; expansion of the use of body cameras; a restoration of local control of the Baltimore Police Department; and an expansion of the Maryland Public Information Act to include police misconduct records. A detailed list of the bills in the reform package will be included in next week’s end of session letter.
With only four days to go until the end of the session, there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done. I wish you a safe & peaceful weekend and we’ll be in touch shortly with our end of session wrap up.