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A House of Delegates workgroup voted Thursday in favor of overhauling laws governing policing in Maryland. Among the changes, the group recommends repealing the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights and creating statewide rules for when and how police officers can use deadly force in the line of duty.

 

WYPR’s Rachel Baye and Nathan Sterner discuss the group’s work.

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Members of the Maryland House of Delegates are considering at least a dozen changes to the laws governing police, from rules about the use of lethal force to who is responsible for investigating accusations of misconduct. During a meeting Thursday, support for those changes appeared to break down along party lines, with Republicans resisting some of the bigger shifts from the status quo.

State lawmakers continued day two of their marathon hearings Wednesday on a series of bills aimed at reforming policing in Maryland. They heard from police, prosecutors, civil rights lawyers and from the mother of a 14-year-old boy who was shot and killed by police.

Police had been called to the Southwest Baltimore home of Greta Willis in August 2006 for what they were told was a fight between her and her son, Kevin Cooper.


State lawmakers heard hours of testimony Tuesday about a slate of Democratic proposals to reform policing in Maryland, in the first of three straight days of hearings on the topic. In addition to civil rights advocates, law enforcement leaders and elected officials, the state Senate Judicial Proceedings committee heard from several residents who spoke about fathers, sons and other family members killed by police in Maryland.

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Legislation authorizing Johns Hopkins University to establish its own police force progressed in the state Senate on Wednesday.

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State lawmakers are set to consider Friday whether Johns Hopkins University should establish its own private police department, an effort that has been met with resistance from university faculty, staff, students, alumni and neighbors.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

The Maryland General Assembly begins its annual 90-day session Wednesday in Annapolis, and reducing violent crime in Baltimore is at the top of political leaders’ agendas.

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In barely 24 hours, Baltimore lost its lead on one new police commissioner, but gained another. Joel Fitzgerald, the chief of police in Fort Worth, Texas, was out and Michael Harrison, Police Superintendent from New Orleans was in.

After confirming Monday that Fitzgerald had withdrawn from consideration, Mayor Catherine Pugh announced Tuesday that Harrison will be Baltimore’s Acting Commissioner in a few weeks. She said he will then begin meeting with community groups and others before the City Council holds confirmation hearings.

It all happened with dizzying speed and a few contradictions.

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It is illegal for a correctional officer to engage in sexual acts with people in their custody, but most law enforcement officials don’t face the same restriction. State lawmakers are considering legislation that would close that loophole.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Two Baltimore police officers have been convicted of racketeering, robbery and wire fraud. Those officers now face up to 60 years in federal prison. Mary Rose Madden from member station WYPR reports.

The jury in the trial of two former police officers who were part of Baltimore's now-disbanded Gun Trace Task Force has begun its deliberations. This after closing arguments stretched over two days.

Eight officers on that unit were indicted on federal charges of racketeering, robbery and wire fraud for filing false overtime claims. Six have pleaded guilty and four have testified against their former fellow officers.

WYPR's Mary Rose Madden has been following the trial, and gives Nathan Sterner a recap.

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Eight officers on the Baltimore Police Department's now disbanded Gun Trace Task Force have been indicted on federal charges, including racketeering, conspiracy and robbery. Out of the six who have pleaded guilty, four are cooperating with the government and crossing the fabled "blue wall of silence" to testify against their fellow officers.

Michael Pinard, a law professor at the University of Maryland, says their testimony over the last two and a half weeks mirrors the findings of a scathing US Justice Department report a year and a half ago.

Dominique Maria Bonessi

Thousands of people gathered in Mount Pleasant Church Wednesday for the funeral of Baltimore Detective Sean Suiter, who was fatally shot two weeks ago in Harlem Park.

Christmas garland and wreaths hung from the church balconies and large bouquets lined the edge of the pulpit where Mayor Catherine Pugh, Governor Larry Hogan, and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis spoke of Suiter’s calm demeanor and heroic choices.

Mary Rose Madden

Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis says officers have come up with new evidence in the shooting death of Detective Sean Suiter.

"Based on the results of the autopsy yesterday...we have recovered additional evidence from the crime scene," Davis told reporters. He wouldn't say what that evidence was, but stressed that investigators went back to the vacant lot in the 900 block of Bennett Place, where Suiter was shot, and made progress.

P. Kenneth Burns

Earlier this year, Baltimore entered into a consent decree with the Department of Justice to reform the city police department. As part of the agreement, an independent monitor will keep track of the changes made and report publicly on the progress.

Tuesday night, the city hosted the first of two forums where community members could hear from the four finalists considered for monitors.

WYPR's Matt Tacka and Rachel Baye discuss what happened at the forum and the process for selecting the monitor.

Baltimore Police vacancies and pilot programs

Aug 9, 2017
Dominique Maria Bonessi

Morning Edition Host, Nathan Sterner, talks to City Hall Reporter, Dominique Maria Bonessi, about the Baltimore Police Department's officer vacancies, new hiring strategy, and programs in their pilot phase to bring the department into the 21st century.