Maryland Senate passes police accountability measure

Maryland Senate passes police accountability measure

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Maryland Senate passed an expansive police accountability measure late Thursday night that supporters said was critically needed to restore public trust in law enforcement.

Opponents, however, contended the legislation went too far and will hurt police recruitment and retention.

The Senate voted 32-15 for a bill already approved by the House of Delegates. Thirty-one Democrats and one Republican voted for the measure, while 14 Republicans and one Democrat voted against it. The bill now goes back to the House to review amendments added by the Senate.

The bill includes repeal of job protections long criticized for impeding accountability in misconduct cases known as the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights. It also would put limits on no-knock warrants and create a statewide use-of-force standard that bans chokeholds. It includes a duty-to-intervene provision requiring an officer to make a reasonable effort to prevent use of excessive force. It also would require body cameras throughout the state by 2025.

“The system is broken for too many of us,” said Sen. Malcolm Augustine, a Prince George’s County Democrat. “That’s why this Police Reform and Accountability Act is so important. It is there to help protect those who feel they have no protection.”

Opponents said the measure went so far that it came across as a punitive action against all police in the state, and they expressed concerns about the legislation hurting recruitment or driving good police away from the force.

“I’m concerned about the retention, the recruitment, the respect, that is lost for the men and women of law enforcement,” said Sen. Jack Bailey, a Republican and retired police officer who represents St. Mary’s and Calvert counties in southern Maryland.

The Senate has approved a package of nine bills of its own on police reform that are now being considered in the House.

Police reform has been a top priority this year for the General Assembly, which is controlled by Democrats. The measure sponsored by House Speaker Adrienne Jones was set in motion by a workgroup she named in May after nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.

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Published at Fri, 02 Apr 2021 01:25:00 +0000

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