The workgroup heard testimony from Maryland Chiefs and Sheriffs Associations, Fraternal Order of Police, Department of State Police, Maryland Troopers Association, and State Law Enforcement Officers Labor Alliance.
Over the course of five hours, the presentations before the House Police Reform and Accountability comprehensively covered law enforcement perspectives and expertise on a range of issues including the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR); Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA); use of force policies; police body-worn cameras; the recruitment, retention, and training of officers; and community engagement.
The panel representing the Maryland Chiefs and Sheriffs Associations included Chief David C. Morris, Riverdale Park Police Department; Chief Melissa R. Hyatt, Baltimore County Police Department; Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael S. Harrison; Karen Kruger, Legal Counsel, Chiefs Association; and Charles County Sheriff Troy Berry, Incoming Sheriff’s Association President.
Morris provided opening remarks and referenced recommendations the Associations had previously made to change the LEOBR and to address the release of certain investigatory records. Hyatt focused on the challenges of recruitment and retention in addition to the changes recently enacted under her oversight of the Baltimore County Police Department. Harris shared information from both his role as Commissioner of the Baltimore City Police Department and as a member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Police Reform and Racial Justice Working Group. Under the consent decree, the City has instituted a number of new policies and reforms. He highlighted key recommendations made by the national workgroup on the sanctity of life, transparency and accountability, and collective bargaining agreements. Kruger walked the committee through the LEOBR. And Berry rounded out the panel noting the initiatives undertaken by the Charles County Sheriffs Office and highlighting the difficulties in funding and launching police body camera programs.
The Fraternal Order of Police was represented by attorney Frank D. Boston, III; Vince Canales, President, Maryland State Fraternal Order of Police; and attorney Michael E. Davey. The panelists discussed the disciplinary process under the LEOBR in detail from start to finish.
The panels for the Maryland Troopers Association included attorney Byron B. Warnken and attorney Rebecca L. Smith, the Department of State Police was represented by Superintendent Colonel Woodrow W. Jones III, and the State Law Enforcement Officers Labor Alliance represented by President Brian Gill largely covered topics addressed by previous panels noting any unique perspectives from their respective agencies.
Sonia Y. W. Pruitt, retired Captain from the Montgomery County
Police Department, and past chairperson of the National Black Police
Association shared her perspective as a former officer and work on equity and discrimination issues.
The bi-partisan Workgroup on Police Reform and Accountability, chaired by House Judiciary Committee Vice-Chair Vanessa Atterbeary, has been charged by Speaker Adrienne Jones to meet over the summer to prepare legislation for the 2021 General Assembly session.
The meeting was streamed live and a recording may be found on YouTube.
The next meeting is scheduled for September 17, 2020, where the workgroup will hear from the state’s attorneys and public defenders.
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