I have worked many late hours over the past two weeks closely with my Democrat colleagues in an effort to make their slate of “police reform” bills more balanced, fair, and effective. Here is a list and brief summary of the 8 Policing Bills passed to 2nd Reader in the Maryland Senate on 2/26/21:
SB 71 – Police Officers – Testimony – Presumption of Inadmissibility. An officer’s intentional failure to active a police officer’s body worn camera would lead to the exclusion of the officer’s testimony in court on the matter that would have been recorded. Mandates that all law enforcement agencies deploy body cameras.
SB 74 – Police Officers – Mental Health – Employee Assistance Program. Requires law enforcement agencies to provide officers with free mental health care.
SB 178 – Public Information Action – Personal Records – Investigations of Law Enforcement Officers. Provides that records related to administrative or criminal police misconduct proceedings are not confidential records that are per se undiscoverable by the public. Records would be subject to disclosure to persons of interest subject to the agencies right to withhold disclosure of certain categories of records.
SB 419 - No-Knock Warrants. Allows no knock warrants provided the chief and state’s attorney approve of the warrant. The bill also limits searches conducted between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. unless authorized in the warrant.
SB 599 – Public Safety – Surplus Military Equipment – Prohibition on Purchases by Law Enforcement Agencies. Law enforcement agency cannot obtain from federal government certain equipment, including weaponized drones, and other specified equipment listed in the Bill. It does not generally prohibit agencies from acquiring military surplus, including vehicles.
SB 600 - Office of Attorney General – Investigation and Prosecution of Deaths Caused by Police Officers. When the actions of a police officer cause a death, if the local prosecutor elects not to prosecute the matter, the office of the State Prosecutor would have discretion to prosecute.
SB 626 - Law Enforcement Officers – Use of Force. Establishes a definition of use of force. Provides criminal penalties for intentional use of excessive force. Mandates that LE officers render assistance to persons injured by a officer’s use of force. Mandates that officers report misconduct by fellow officers. Provides that the Maryland Police Training Standards Commission can decertify an officer who violates policies on use of force. Provides whistleblower protections to officers who report misconduct. Mandates that local jurisdictions adopt policies on use of force in sync with standards stated by the Police Training and Standards Commission.
SB 627 - Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR) – Repeal and Procedures for Discipline. Repeals LEOBR and replaces it with a new process for the investigation, adjudication, and remedy of misconduct allegations. That process includes an investigation and hearing by a three member board consisting of one law enforcement officer and two civilians, all appointed by the chief. The findings of that board are final as to the facts and the finding of a violation. The chief would have complete discretion as to the discipline imposed. Prohibits police agencies from adopting different or altered disciplinary process through collective bargaining. Provides certain rights including: right to have records expunged, engage in political activity, engage in secondary employment, and other specified rights.
To share your views on any topics at anytime I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow the hearings and voting online at www.mgaleg.maryland.gov.