Police Reform | WYPR

Police Reform

In a virtual town hall, parents and teachers grill Baltimore City Schools officials on their plan to return some students to classrooms in November. And a Maryland House of Delegates workgroup votes to revamp state policing laws.

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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.

A new Goucher College poll shows a vast majority of Marylanders in favor of police reform. We remember a Baltimore advocate for racial justice. And a Green Party candidate gives an establishment Democrat some serious competition in a City Council race.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

A new poll from Goucher College shows widespread support for the kinds of police reform policies Maryland legislators are expected to introduce in January. 

 

More than 80% of those polled said they support making records of police misconduct public and having an independent prosecutor investigate police misconduct cases. Nearly 80% said they support creating statewide rules for when police officers are allowed to use lethal force. 

Patrick Semansky / AP

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.

The Daily Dose 9-25-20

Sep 25, 2020

Baltimore County Executive Johnny O sounds off on communication problems with the governor. Nursing home inspectors aren’t required to be tested for COVID-19. And there’s more heated debate on day 3 of the MD Senate Police Reform hearings.

The Daily Dose 9-24-20

Sep 24, 2020

The governor's former chief of staff is called to testify on a self-dealing scandal. Police reform hearings continue in the MD Senate. Baltimore students call on Comcast to close the city’s digital divide. And in Baltimore County, teachers are anxious about their upcoming return to the classroom.

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.

The Daily Dose 9-23-20

Sep 23, 2020

Emotions run high as Maryland Senate hearings on police reform continue. Studies show that recovering from COVID-19 can leave some patients with long-term heart damage, a medical expert will explain why. And as the city’s budget strains under this pandemic, Baltimore will sever a lucrative contract tied to the city’s disgraced ex-mayor.


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.

The Daily Dose 9-22-20

Sep 22, 2020

Baltimore City Council heard more than 30 new bills at its most recent meeting, including labor bills to protect the right-of-return of laid-off employees. And the debate over police reform in Maryland takes front and center in a marathon three day hearing in the State Senate.

Statewide efforts to reform policing will be the focus of a three-day marathon of hearings that begins Tuesday before the state Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee. The hearings will consider issues related to body cameras, police discipline, and use-of-force policies.

 

The timing of the hearings — more than three months before the annual 90-day General Assembly session begins — is unusual, but Sen. Will Smith, chair of the committee, said this is an unusual time.

Joel McCord

The presiding officers of Maryland’s General Assembly disappointed a coalition of progressive activists Wednesday night, telling them they would not call for a special session to act on issues such as housing, worker protection and police reform.

Members of the coalition, from groups like Progressive Maryland, Jews United for Justice and CASA, spread out on 141 socially distanced folding chairs—the same number as in the House of Delegates—in a field outside an Annapolis school. They were trying to demonstrate that lawmakers could safely hold legislative hearings and votes.

The Daily Dose 8-28-20

Aug 28, 2020
SCREENSHOT VIA GOVERNOR LARRY HOGAN FACEBOOK PAGE

Tensions run high at a police reform meeting between lawmakers and law enforcement. Governor Hogan’s call for a swift return to in-person learning catches districts off-guard. The city suspends recycling collection. And preparations for mail-in ballots have begun in what is shaping up to be a fraught election process.


Thousands are marking the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington Friday with growing calls for police reform. In Maryland, those calls often point to the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, or LEOBR, as a barrier to police accountability.

 

Representatives of law enforcement groups defended the LEOBR during a meeting with state lawmakers Thursday and pushed back on other suggestions for reform.

Mary Rose Madden / WYPR

A bipartisan panel of Maryland lawmakers heard from dozens of residents and legal advocates Thursday  who called for police reform measures.

Black residents told the workgroup of traumatizing encounters with police from Anne Arundel to Howard counties, from Baltimore County to the city.

The Daily Dose 7-29-20

Jul 29, 2020
Baltimore County Police Department

Governor Hogan hits pause on Maryland’s reopening plans. The call gets louder for an all mail-in ballot this November. Things got heated in debate over police reforms at a Baltimore County Council public. And environmental activists say a Baltimore City incinerator is a public health threat.

The Daily Dose 7-28-20

Jul 28, 2020
Patrick Semansky/AP

Police-reform legislation goes before the Baltimore County Council. Housing relief applications are due this week, and there are growing calls for Governor Hogan to stave off mass evictions. And Baltimore Mayor Jack Young rules on two pressing charter amendments.

The Daily Dose 6-24-20

Jun 24, 2020
WYPR

Maryland hasn’t dealt with some 34 thousand residents who are still waiting to be processed for unemployment insurance. Baltimore County’s School Board cuts back a planned pay raise for teachers. Plus, a conversation with Wes Moore about racial inequity, police reform, and what the rest of the country might learn from Baltimore’s experience.

The Daily Dose 6-17-20

Jun 17, 2020
Melissa Gerr

The MTA faces a Fall deadline for its nearly two-decades-old Central Maryland Transportation Plan, so how will it address the needs of riders in the midst of a pandemic? And COVID-19 hasn’t stopped the much-anticipated Maryland Film Festival, but it'll change how we experience it.

The Baltimore Police Department’s top brass, along with lawyers for the city and the US Department of Justice were in the federal courtroom of Judge James Bredar Thursday. They spoke about the progress they’re making – and the challenges before them - in meeting the terms of federally mandated reforms.  

In the second hearing on the consent decree, Judge Bredar asked pointed questions and made recommendations about how the police department could move more swiftly to fix some problems.

DOJ v. FOP

Jan 13, 2017
P. Kenneth Burns / WYPR

Shortly after the Justice Department and Baltimore City officials announced they’d reached a legal contract to reform the city police department Thursday the police union complained they were left out of the negotiations.

But Friday a DOJ spokesperson contradicted those claims.

Baltimore, Feds agree to consent decree

Jan 12, 2017
P. Kenneth Burns / WYPR

EDITOR'S NOTE: Read the full consent decree below.

Baltimore City and federal officials announced Thursday an agreement that will force the Baltimore Police Department to reform. The decree comes six months after a scathing Justice Department report found that city police routinely violated citizens’ rights; especially of African-Americans.

The consent decree is the product of a civil rights investigation into the police department after the 2015 in-custody death of Freddie Gray.  Gray suffered severe injuries while being transported in a police van.

Details of the consent decree were made public as a news conference was taking place announcing the agreement.

P. Kenneth Burns

In case you missed it, the Baltimore City Police Department is a state agency.  It has been that way since the 19th century and it might affect the city’s negotiations with the Department of Justice for sweeping police reforms.

FOP warned police about problems four years ago

Aug 26, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

A report issued four years ago by the Baltimore police union expressed the same concerns about zero-tolerance enforcement and training issues as the caustic Justice Department report on the Baltimore Police Department two weeks ago.

In fact, the federal report cited several times a “Blueprint for Improved Policing” published by the city Fraternal Order of Police in 2012.

Rachel Baye

Representatives of Maryland’s Legislative Black Caucus and the NAACP announced Friday a set of policy proposals in response to the scathing Justice Department report on discriminatory practices by the Baltimore Police Department.

Among the legislators’ proposals are hiring practices that bring in more African American and women city residents, protections for police whistle-blowers and opportunities for civilians to review police actions.

Mayor: DOJ findings “challenging” to hear

Aug 10, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

Editor's note: The full DOJ report is posted at the bottom of this story.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Wednesday she was committed to implementing police reforms after the U.S. Justice Department issued a scathing report on the Baltimore Police Department.

The mayor said “the findings are challenging to hear” but that her administration did not wait around for the Justice Department to issue its 163-page report.

“The city has taken first steps in a long path to reform and we’ve begun to see real benefits,” she said.