Baltimore County Council Passes ‘SMART’ Police Reform Act

The Baltimore County Council has passed the Strengthening Modernization, Accountability, Reform, and Transparency (SMART) Policing Act.  The SMART Act was introduced by Baltimore County Council Member Julian Jones and had the support of County Executive Johnny Olszewski. The bill was amended after being tabled by the Council in August. The Baltimore Sun reports on what the SMART Act will require in addition to setting use of force restrictions and providing whistleblower protections: Police will be…

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House Police Reform Workgroup Discusses Possible Recommendations for 2021 Session

House Workgroup on Police Reform and Accountability begins work on developing recommendations for the 2021 session as each member shares their thoughts on what's necessary to see addressed moving forward. In her opening remarks, Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary, Chair of the Workgroup and Vice-Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, reiterated why the workgroup was created and its specific charge which was stated as: Review policies and procedures related to the investigations of police misconduct including the…

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Office of People’s Counsel Provides Info on Assistance Programs as End to Utility Shutoff Moratorium Nears

While the moratorium on terminating residential gas, water, and electric services is set to end on November 15 in Maryland, utilities are authorized to begin sending out termination notices on October 1 -- 45 days before the end of the moratorium.  The Office of People's Counsel has sent out information strongly encouraging anyone who may be eligible for assistance to apply now and not wait for a turn-off notice. A message sent from the Office…

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City to Dedicate $6M to Assist Families with Essential Needs During the Pandemic

The Baltimore City Board of Estimates has approved the use of $6 million from the Baltimore Children and Youth Fund to help provide families in need with groceries and other essentials during the pandemic.  The new program, which is a partnership with Open Society Institute Baltimore, will target vulnerable groups such as homeless youth as well as families who may not be eligible for assistance supported by federal coronavirus funds including undocumented immigrants. The Baltimore…

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Drug and Alcohol Deaths Continue to Spike in Maryland During Pandemic

Quarterly data released from the Opioid Operational Command Center (OOCC) and the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) shows a continued increase in drug and alcohol deaths in the state -- an increase which has been tied to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.  The data released by the OOCC and MDH includes preliminary reports from January - June of 2020 and shows a nine percent increase in overdose deaths compared to the same time period in 2019.…

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MACo, MML Release Joint Statement on Proposed Local Government Tort Claim Act Legislation

MACo and MML submitted a joint letter of information on proposed legislation regarding the Local Government Tort Claims Act (LGTCA) that was heard by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. The proposed legislation, JPR 11 - Tort Claims Acts – Limits on Liability – Law Enforcement Officers, is part of the draft Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021. The Local Government Tort Claims Act (LGTCA) sets reasonable judgment limits on claims against local governments and their…

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MACo, MML Release Joint Statement on Proposed Police Body-worn Camera Recordings Legislation

MACo and MML submitted a joint letter of information on proposed legislation regarding the release of police body-worn camera recordings in front of the Judicial Proceedings Committee. The proposed legislation, JPR 8 – Public Information Act – Police Body-worn Camera Recordings, is part of the draft Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021. The draft bill provides a framework for when police body-worn camera recordings are to be released under the Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA).…

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Senate JPR Tackles Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR) on Day Three of Police Accountability Hearings

The two bills heard on the final day of virtual Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee (JPR) hearings on draft police accountability and law enforcement reform legislation for the 2021 session solely centered on the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR).  The LEOBR is arguably one of the most controversial statutes in Maryland law. It establishes the procedures and framework for police discipline. Generally, proponents of the statute believe it provides a uniform system of due…

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Senate JPR Police Reform Hearing Two of Three Centers on Tech, Torts, and Investigations

The second day of virtual Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee (JPR) hearings on draft police accountability and law enforcement reform legislation for the 2021 session focused on police body cameras, tort claims liabilities, and state prosecutor investigator authority among other issues.  JPR Chair Will Smith jumped right into the day's work noting that the hearing on Wednesday's six bill proposals would follow the same format as the day before. First, the sponsors would introduce the bills.…

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Senate JPR Held First of Three Hearings on Draft Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 Legislative Proposals

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee held the first of three hearings Tuesday on draft Police Accountability and Law Enforcement Reform legislation for the 2021 session.  The package of reform proposals falls under the umbrella of the Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021. In his opening statement, Chair Will Smith clarified that the hearings being held this week were just the beginning of the committee's work on police reform and not final products. His goal is…

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