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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.

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.

Dominique Maria Bonessi

Law enforcement officials and some of the police’s most fervent critics agreed during a four-hour state Senate hearing Thursday that the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights needs to be changed. They disagreed, however,  on the scope of the change.

 

The controversial Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights, or LEOBR, governs police internal investigations and discipline. Critics say it gives too much protection to police who violate rules or even the law. 

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.

Photograph by Chad Davis/Flickr

We are nearly three weeks into sustained worldwide protests over the Minneapolis police killing last month of George Floyd. On Friday night, a white police officer in Atlanta named Garrett Rolfe killed a 27-year-old Black man, Rayshard Brooks, as he fled after failing a sobriety test.  Brooks had taken a Taser gun from another officer and pointed it, and possibly fired it at Rolfe. The coroner has declared Brooks’ death a homicide.  Rolfe has been fired, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating.

This latest incident has further intensified calls for reform of police use-of-force policies, and growing demands in cities across the country to “defund the police.”  The Baltimore City Council met virtually on Friday night to discuss cuts to the Baltimore Police Department budget. The U.S. Senate and the House are considering federal legislation, and leaders in Annapolis have vowed that police reform will be a high priority in the next General Assembly.

Some call for reform within traditional law enforcement structures; others advocate for reallocating funds from police to social services...

Rachel Baye / WYPR


  Thousands of people marched across Baltimore for a second consecutive weekend in multiple demonstrations to protest racism and police brutality and demand equal treatment under the law.

Wikimedia Commons

Leaders in the Maryland House of Delegates are forming a workgroup that aims to improve trust and accountability in police statewide. The announcement this weekend came a few hours before hundreds in Baltimore joined nationwide protests of abuses by police.

“Policing in America is broken,” said House Speaker Adrienne Jones in a statement announcing the new workgroup. “As the mother of two sons, accountability in policing is not just philosophical, it is personal.”

Wikimedia Commons

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

Jacobinmag.com

Police departments in our country are struggling. In 2015, Gallup reported that public confidence in police was at a historic 22-year low. This was the same year Baltimore was rocked by Freddie Grey’s case and subsequent city-wide riots. While support has grown since then, the disconnect between the public and the police is palpable. 

What are the messages out there for future cops? Is this a profession that people aspire to? And what are police departments doing to mend relations with the public – possibly enticing new recruits in the process?

Policing and Mental Health

Dec 15, 2016

In this episode, Wes explores initiatives that are helping to improve how police respond to people in mental distress. Across the country, a growing number of cities are investing in ‘Crisis Intervention Team’ training for law enforcement officers and other first responders. This month, Wes looks to San Antonio, Texas, which grew that idea into an innovative collaboration that's made a huge difference over the past decade.