Repeal of the long-standing "Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights (LEOBR). Establishes a new Independent Investigative Agency; County Police Accountability Boards; and County Administrative charging Committees that, along with the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission will administer the process of disciplining officers against whom a Complaint has been filed.
Expands Transparency. HB 670 now allows anyone to request documents that were formerly exempt from disclosure as personnel records. Now, the state must release records from criminal investigations of misconduct, internal affairs records, hearings, and disciplinary decision-making records. All records must be released regardless of whether there was any truth to the complaint prompting the investigation.
I offered an amendment to remove some language to not include Unsubstantial Complaints. The amendment failed.
Anonymous & Unsworn Complaints. Complaints against a police officer may be submitted anonymously and without being sworn or notarized. Anyone can file a complaint to retaliate against an officer that can cause angst to the individual, family, and co-workers.
Can Never Expunge. No records relating to an investigation, regardless of its outcome, may be expunged or destroyed.
"Implicit Bias" Test The Maryland Police Training & Standards Commission must develop an Implicit Bias test to administer to new recruits and be taken annually by all officers. (The problem here is that no reliable test exists. Extensive conversation with local medical and psychological teams agreed with Harvard University experts who said, "If you’re looking for tests that identify potential job candidates with hidden bias, I’m sorry to say that such a test doesn’t currently exist.")
No-Knock Warrants. In order to obtain a No-Knock warrant, the bill raises the standard of proof the officer must show to "clear and convincing evidence." In testimony, the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, said, "If adopted, this standard will create untenable safety risks for officers and result in the escape of suspects and destruction of critical evidence."
Annual Mental Health testing. All officers must be recertified each year which mandates a mental health assessment along with a physical agility assessment.
Penalty for violating the Use of Force Statute. The original bill provided for a maximum 10-year jail term for an intentional violation. For a reckless violation, the original bill established a maximum 5-year jail term. The House amended this provision to now read that an officer who "uses lethal force against a person in a manner inconsistent with [the Use of Force Statute] that results in death may be charged with manslaughter or murder." If the misuse of lethal force does not result in death may nonetheless be charged with Reckless Endangerment or Assault.
Use-of-Force standard. And most problematic is the new Use-of-Force standard: A police officer may not use force against a person unless the force is necessary force and proportional to:
- Prevent an imminent threat of physical injury to a person, or
- Effectuate an arrest of a person who the officer has probable cause to believe has committed a crime, taking into consideration the seriousness of the alleged crime.
A police officer may use force only after exhausting reasonable alternatives to the use of force, and only until the use of force accomplishes a legitimate law enforcement objective,
A police officer shall cease the use of force as soon as:
- The person on whom the force is used:
· -----Is under the officer’s control; or
· -----No longer poses an imminent threat of physical injury or death to the police officer or to another person; or
- The officer determines that force will no longer accomplish, or is no longer reasonable and proportional to accomplish, a legitimate law enforcement objective.”
A police officer may not use lethal force against a person unless:
Lethal necessary force is used as a last resort to prevent imminent threat of death or serious physical injury to the police officer or another person;
The use of lethal force presents no substantial risk of injury to a third person; and
All reasonable alternatives to the use of deadly force have been exhausted.
The Maryland Troopers Association testified against this standard: "Officers cannot be expected to ponder or consider multiple factors in life and death situations where citizens and the officers' safety is at issue.. . . the reasonableness of the officer's actions must be based on the information the officer has in the moment force is used."
The Maryland Troopers Association Testimony.