February 22, 2021
The push for strong police reform continues this week in the Senate and the House of Delegates. Here are three things you can do:
More information about each of these is below:
Repeal the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBR) (SB 627 / HB 151)
Last week, the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee adopted amendments that weakened SB 627. Reach out to Senate President Bill Ferguson, Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Chair Will Smith, and your Senators and ask that they send SB 627 back to the committee and return the bill to its original posture. Anything less than a real repeal of LEOBR and local jurisdiction’s authority to implement community oversight boards is unacceptable.
What is LEOBR and why it should be repealed
LEOBR gives special rights to police officers that ordinary people do not get and prevents communities from investigating misconduct that could lead to discipline. As a result, only a very small percentage of complaints actually result in discipline. This lack of accountability has fueled the countless stories and terrifying videos of brutalization that so many Black and brown Marylanders have faced for decades. Repealing LEOBR is necessary to advance racial justice and to start reimagining policing.
Make investigations into police misconduct transparent (Anton’s Law – SB 178 / HB 120)
Anton’s Law will be on the Senate floor on Monday or Tuesday. Urge your Senator to pass the bill with no amendments!
About Anton’s Law
Police need community oversight. Secrecy undermines community trust in police, at a time when police departments should be mending and improving their relationships with the communities they are sworn to protect. If an individual files a complaint of police misconduct, they do not have the right to know how the complaint was investigated. They are only informed of the outcome of the investigation and whether any disciplinary measures were imposed. The public does not know whether the investigation was thorough. Reforming the Maryland Public Information Act would remove complaint files from the personnel record category, allowing the police department to disclose them in appropriate situations.
Police reform legislation in the House
Two police reform bills (HB 670 and HB 671) sponsored by House Speaker Adrienne Jones, House Judiciary Chair Luke Clippinger, and Vice-Chair Vanessa Atterbeary will be moving forward, while stronger bills from the Maryland Coalition for Justice and Police Accountability (MCJPA) are not moving. The bills include the repeal of LEOBR, giving Baltimore City control over its police department, no-knock warrants, and reform of the Maryland Public Information Act. Please urge Speaker Jones, Delegate Clippinger, and Delegate Atterbeary to adopt MCJPA amendments so that the bills pass out of committee with the strongest possible language and thank them for their leadership.