Leaders, Advocates Seek to Seize Moment for Police Reform

Police Cars Flashing Lights

Elected leaders and criminal justice advocates prepare for fall hearings and subsequent 2021 police reform and accountability legislative packages. 

For Senator Will Smith, Chair of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, and for many many advocates the lack of progress on police reform over the past years has come down to  “well-defined” police issues with little “political will.” But supporters of reform believe this is a ripe time to generate impactful reform.

The Baltimore Sun reports on how Smith plans to introduce a package of comprehensive reform legislation in the 2021 session and how advocates have been doing their due diligence researching current practices and areas for reform.

The group [Project Zero] identified a number of ways it says police union contracts can prevent accountability. According to the organization’s website, these include “arbitrary” deadlines to file misconduct complaints; restrictions that bar investigators from questioning police officers immediately after an incident; periodic erasures of misconduct records; providing officers information unavailable to civilians; and allowing arbitrators who aren’t “accountable to the public” to reduce officers’ punishments.

A draft document from Smith about the legislation lists eight areas of focus: disclosure of records, use of force, police discipline, independent investigations, demilitarization, liability caps, training, and duty to intervene.

The article notes that Smith expects all stakeholders to come to the table to discuss the bills and rather than have one omnibus piece of legislation, each issue will be addressed in its own bill that can be pass or fail independently.

For more information:

Maryland has a ‘unique moment’ to move critical police reforms forward, elected leaders say (The Baltimore Sun)