The segments below provide a brief overview of MACo’s work in the area of pubic safety and corrections in the 2022 General Assembly.
Counties are the primary provider of public safety services in the state. Each county is required to have an elected sheriff and some also have a county police force. Additionally, each county operates a local jail that holds inmates awaiting trial and those sentenced to 18 months or less.
The unique circumstances surrounding the 444th legislative session, including necessary health and safety measures, posed a challenge for lawmakers and advocates alike. Yet, despite the unusual circumstances, MACo’s advocacy still led to more positive outcomes for its members.
Release of Information
MACo supported legislation with amendments that would require the State of Maryland to procure body-worn cameras, equipment, and technology for all law enforcement agencies, and to establish and administer a statewide uniform storage and access system for all body-worn camera data captured. HB 162 / SB 558 Public Safety – Law Enforcement – Body-Worn Cameras failed in the General Assembly.
MACo initially opposed and then took no position on legislation obligating each State’s Attorney, a county-funded State agency, to assemble and publish a litany of detailed information on public-facing media, at substantial cost to the county and its taxpayers. The bill was dramatically amended to include fewer reporting elements, and to include new provisions regarding county Police Accountability Boards which are required to be established according to 2021’s Police Accountability Act. SB 763 Public Safety and Criminal Procedure – Collections, Reporting, and Publication of Criminal Case and Prosecutorial Information passed the General Assembly and awaits the Governor’s signature.
MACo initially supported legislation to require the Maryland judiciary to fund private home detention monitoring agencies and home detention monitoring devices for eligible indigent defendants. The bill was later amended to require federal funds to be used to cover home detention monitoring- leaving open the question of who may be required to pay once these funds are expended. MACo later took no position on the bill as a result of the amended language. HB 1011 / SB 704 Conditions of Pretrial Release – Home Detention Monitoring – Alterations and Extension passed the General Assembly and awaits the Governor’s signature.
Task Forces and Grants
MACo supported legislation to substantially increase the level of State Aid for Police Protection, and establish the Local Law Enforcement Coordination Council. HB 411 / SB 397 Public Safety – Law Enforcement Coordination Council and Coordinator and State Aid for Police Protection Fund failed in the General Assembly. Although the bill failed, under this year’s budget, counties will receive a significant increase in funds per officer.
MACo supported legislation to establish a fund available to local governments in support of programs preventing a police response to low–level crimes and noncriminal incidences. HB 1013 / SB 893 Public Safety – Safer Communities Fund and Task Force – Establishment failed in the General Assembly.
MACo supported legislation with amendments establishing a task force to study the need for enhanced monitoring, including state and local processes, of guardians of vulnerable minors. MACo’s proposed amendment would have required county representation on the task force. SB 8 Task Force to Study the Need for Enhanced Monitoring of Guardians of Vulnerable Minors failed in the General Assembly.
MACo supported legislation to establish the Interjurisdictional Policing Grant Program to provide counties with grants to defray costs associated with establishing and supporting interjurisdictional policing agreements; and requiring the Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services to administer the Program and establish certain requirements for the Program. HB 1278 Public Safety – Interjurisdictional Policing Grant Program failed in the General Assembly.
Parole and Probation
MACo supported legislation to require the State to provide $2,000,000 in grants to local law enforcement agencies to execute warrants each year from fiscal years 2024 through 2026. SB 585 Public Safety – Warrants and Absconding passed the General Assembly and awaits the Governor’s signature.
Law Enforcement Summoning
MACo initially supported legislation as amended to prohibit a landlord from taking action against a tenant who repeatedly summons law enforcement or emergency services to their residential property, and prohibits local jurisdictions from enacting laws that may in any way limit or punish a tenant for repeatedly summoning said agencies. MACo offered its support for HB 323 but, in the interest of preserving law enforcement resources, offered amendments limiting the scope of the local jurisdiction prohibition to major offenses. The bill sponsor offered amendments to the bill addressing MACo’s concerns, shifting MACo’s position to just support. HB 323 Real Property – Limitations on Summoning Law Enforcement or Emergency Services – Prohibition failed in the General Assembly.
MACo supported HB 1232 / SB 822 with amendments. This bill would have authorized local governments that participate in the Law Enforcement Officers’ Pension System (LEOPS) to authorize 9-1-1 specialists certified as law enforcement officers to enroll in the LEOPS program. Because most 9-1-1 specialists are not law enforcement officers, counties were concerned that the bill would severely limit eligibility for this local option benefit enhancement. As such, MACo sought an amendment to ensure the bill would apply to all 9-1-1 specialists, as defined in current law. HB 1236 / SB 822 Law Enforcement Officers’ Pension System – 9-1-1 Specialists did not advance in the 2022 session.
MACo supported HB 748 / SB 115 with amendments. This bill would have increased the normal service retirement benefit multiplier for members of the Law Enforcement Officers’ Pension System from 2.0% to 2.5%. The bill also sought to raise the cap on normal service retirement benefit payments from 65% to 70% of the member’s average final compensation. MACo raised concerns about the significant unfunded mandate on county governments and asked for a “local option amendment” to relieve that mandate and allow each jurisdiction to weigh these costs appropriately. SB 115 was amended into a study and passed by the Senate, but no action was taken in the House. HB 748 / SB 115 Law Enforcement Officers’ Pension System – Benefits did not advance n the 2022 session.