Criminal Justice | WYPR

Criminal Justice

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.

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.


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.

We begin today with former Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, who served as the city’s top cop from 2015-2018, in the direct aftermath of the unrest that followed the death and funeral of Freddie Gray, through the negotiation of a consent decree with the Department of Justice, and the transition in City Hall from Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake to Mayor Catherine Pugh. 

Davis is now the Director of the Consulting Services Division of GardaWorld, an international security company.  He also teaches part-time at American University and Catholic University.

Mr. Davis recently wrote an opinion piece published in The Baltimore Sun that pushes back against the idea of defunding the police, and which offers a suggestion for a national approach to police reform, including creating a cabinet-level position of national secretary of police. 

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.

AP Photo/Ragan Clark, File

Streets around the world remain filled with protesters demanding that police be “defunded.” Today on Midday, a police perspective on the intensifying calls to defund and reform the nation's police departments.

Tom is joined by Officer Seth Templeton, a beat cop in Baltimore County who wrote an open letter in the Baltimore Sun to a protester, hoping to bridge the gap between demonstrators and law enforcement;  Chief Melvin Russell, who served in the Baltimore City Police Department for 40 years; and Matthew Horace, a 28-year veteran of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and author of The Black and the Blue: A Cop Reveals the Crimes, Racism and Injustice in America’s Law Enforcement. 

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.

Emily Sullivan / WYPR

As the country approaches the end of a second week of protests over police abuse of black Americans, state and local leaders in Maryland are calling for reforms, including changes to state laws governing police. Many of the proposed changes have been attempted before unsuccessfully, but some lawmakers say this time is different.

The Daily Dose 6-2-20

Jun 2, 2020
Wendel Patrick, Out of the Blocks

On Election Day, remote ballot issues force thousands to show up at the polls in Baltimore. Plus, civil unrest rages in other cities, but Baltimore is being held up as an example of powerful, peaceful protest. The head of West Baltimore’s No Boundaries Coalition talks about lessons learned in the wake of Freddie Gray and the hard work ahead.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

This weekend, demonstrators in Baltimore City joined thousands who took to the streets in cities large and small across the nation protesting the killing of George Floyd. In Baltimore, many of those who want justice for Floyd – a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly 9 minutes – expressed open wounds left by the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of police five years ago. WYPR’s Emily Sullivan reports. 

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.”

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Happy Memorial Day, and welcome to Midday.

The poet Langston Hughes asked “What happens to a dream deferred?” “Maybe it just sags like a heavy load,” he observed. “Or does it explode?” Five years ago, Baltimore did explode in a paroxysm of violence that has come to be known as “The Uprising.”

Today on this encore edition of Midday, we reflect on The Uprising with six people whose roots are in West Baltimore, who work with those who were most significantly affected in 2015 and who have been part of the positive change that the community has experienced, even as it continues to confront long standing challenges. This show originally aired on April 27, 2020.

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

On this special edition of Midday, six reflections on the April 27, 2015 Uprising, and how the community at the epicenter of that unrest - Sandtown-Winchester - has fared since a 25-year old black man named Freddie Gray died from injuries he sustained while in police custody.  At the heart of the protests and the rioting that erupted after Gray's funeral: anger and frustration with a system steeped in racism, inequity and apathy; and a police force that operated with seeming impunity...

(Special Election Notice - 7th Congressional District - Click to Read)

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky


  Five years ago, Joe Jones, the director of the Center for Urban Families got to work early at around 7:30 a.m.  He managed to get a few hours of work done before it was time to head directly across the street to New Shiloh Baptist Church, where Freddie Gray’s funeral was about to start. 

“I could not believe the assemblage of the national media that had descended on a community that wasn't there when I got to work,” he remembered. 

Mary Rose Madden / WYPR

Freddie Gray, a young black man from the city’s west side, died from a severe spinal cord injury suffered while in police custody on April 19, 2015.

His death touched off demonstrations and unrest and it raised crucial questions about the relationship between city police and the black community.

And even police had questions. The day after Gray’s death, Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez told reporters there were things he knew and things he didn’t know.

Young Activists After The Uprising

Apr 23, 2020
AP Photo/David Goldman

Five years after Freddie Gray died in police custody, we trace the impact of the Baltimore Uprising on young activists and organizers. Young people were at the center of the Uprising, demanding that those in power address injustice, police misconduct and more. Organizing Black's Michaela Duchess Brown, who grew up a few blocks from Gray, had already been organizing for eight years in 2015. She says the Uprising sparked a change in youth activism in the city. Plus, Jamie Grace Alexander, a black student activist formerly with the Baltimore Transgender Alliance, and Lana Weidgenant, of the climate justice group Zero Hour, tell us what the Uprising meant to them.

Patrick Semansky / AP


  As state lawmakers hurdle toward an early end to the legislative session, lawmakers passed two bills on Tuesday that aim to help Baltimore with its crime-fighting efforts.

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan spent much of this week attacking the Democrat-led General Assembly for not advancing his bills aimed at reducing crime in Baltimore. On Thursday, Democratic leaders fought back.

Hogan’s latest comments came during a press conference Thursday. He accused legislators of ignoring a “crisis” in Baltimore by not voting his crime package out of committee.

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Two police officers assigned to a U.S. Marshals task force were shot in Northeast Baltimore on Wednesday, officials confirmed.

City police said the officers, one from Baltimore City and one from Baltimore County, are part of a fugitive task force attached to the U.S. Marshals office. They were among a group of officers trying to serve an arrest warrant on a man wanted in a Pennsylvania case about noon in the 5900 Block of Radecke Avenue.

The suspect opened fire, was shot and pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

Dominique Maria Bonessi

 

Former Baltimore detective Carmine Vignola was sentenced Thursday to 18 months in federal prison for a gun-planting incident. He is the 12th officer convicted by the Maryland U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI in their ongoing investigation of police misconduct and activities related to the corrupt Gun Trace Task Force. 

Rachel Baye / WYPR


The Maryland General Assembly voted Thursday to override five vetoes the governor issued last year. One of these laws prohibits employers with at least 15 workers from asking about a job applicant’s criminal history until after an in-person interview.

Rachel Baye


  Gov. Larry Hogan is expected to release on Wednesday a proposed $47.9-billion budget for the fiscal year that begins in July. Hogan told reporters on Tuesday that the budget includes money for initiatives intended to reduce crime in Baltimore, though he had not yet released the full budget for the public or lawmakers to review.

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