Maryland Senate gives initial OK to allow AG's office to do police-involved killing prosecutions
After lengthy debate Tuesday, the Maryland Senate advanced a bill giving the State Attorney General’s office the power to do prosecutions of police-involved killings.
Two years ago, the General Assembly created within the Attorney General’s Office the Independent Investigations Division, which now does the investigations into police-involved killings in Maryland.
And bill sponsor state Sen. Will Smith of Montgomery County says allowing the office to do the prosecutions is the next step. He says the working relationship between state’s attorneys and law enforcement officers in their respective counties is too close to ensure impartiality, noting federal authorities do something similar right now.
“It’s done in civil rights cases, money laundering cases, RICO cases, white collar cases and with other complex litigation,” Smith told his colleagues on the Senate floor. “So this is not a novel concept. The conflict [of interest] exists when you have a strong working relationship with the subject of an investigation.”
Nearly every state’s attorney across Maryland as well as various law enforcement agencies oppose the switch. And Republicans who unsuccessfully tried to amend the bill twice Tuesday echoed sentiments heard in the bill’s Judicial Proceedings Committee last month, where opponents argued the Attorney General’s office isn’t equipped to do these kinds of prosecutions.
A final Senate vote is expected this week before the measure moves to the House.