Policing and Public Safety Bill Hits Snags in Senate

The omnibus Public Safety and Policing Workgroup Bill (SB 1026) hit a snag on the Senate floor Monday night when it was sent back to committee.

As reported in The Baltimore Sun:

The measure, which would make significant changes to the state’s Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights, was sent back to committee after some members of the Baltimore delegation rejected a compromise struck last week over the issue of civilians sitting on police trial boards as voting members.

The legislation, an outgrowth of the rioting that erupted in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray from injuries received in police custody, came to the Senate floor Monday night for preliminary approval and consideration of amendments. But when the bill met resistance after 10 p.m., Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller instructed Sen. Bobby Zirkin, a Baltimore County Democrat who chairs the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, to take it back to the panel to deal with the objections raised by city senators.

Recommitting a bill to committee is often a way of killing it, but Zirkin said he’s not giving up on the legislation.

As the article notes, the compromise would have given each jurisdiction the authority to determine whether to have civilian members on police trial boards and whether those members would have a vote.

After the House approved a version of the bill that did not permit civilian voting members, Baltimore senators sought an amendment that would allow two trained civilians with full voting powers to sit alongside three officers on trial boards in the city.

But the committee decided to allow all jurisdictions to make their own decisions on whether to have civilian members and whether they should have a vote. In Baltimore, the Senate bill would permit the mayor and City Council to adopt local legislation creating the civilian-police trial boards after working out collective bargaining issues with the Fraternal Order of Police.

“We decided the best way forward was to let each local jurisdiction make their own determination,” Zirkin said under questioning by Baltimore Sen. Catherine E. Pugh, a Democrat. Zirkin said some counties had no interest in civilians on trial boards.

MACo testified in support with amendments on SB 1026.

For more information:

Police Discipline Bill Hits Snags as Some City Senators Reject Compromise (The Baltimore Sun)

Policing Bill Voted Out of Senate Committee (Conduit Street)