2016 Legislative Session - Police Accountability
In May 2015, the Senate President and House Speaker created the joint legislative Public Safety and Policing Workgroup for the purpose of examining police training resources, recruiting and hiring practices, and community engagement policies; considering a statewide oversight panel for certain kinds of investigations; and reviewing the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights and its application and practice by law enforcement agencies across the State.
The Workgroup issued its report in January 2016, and the House and Senate leadership introduced legislation to enact its 23 recommendations.
In collaboration with the groups belonging to the Maryland Coalition for Justice and Police Accountability, we are supporting this legislation.
SB 1026/HB1016 – Public Safety and Policing Workgroup – Recommendations – Establishes a Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission as an independent unit in the Executive Department to establish standards that will now include:
• Recruitment standards to increase diversity
• Initial and periodic psychological evaluations
• Training in antidiscrimination and use of force de-escalation
• Annual reporting of officer-involved incidents by law enforcement agencies
• Confidential hotline for police to contact peers or mental health professionals for counseling and referral to appropriate services
• Best practices for implementing community policing programs in each jurisdiction
• Requires a use-of-force/incident report to be completed by the end of the shift unless the officer is disabled
• Requires a confidential and non-punitive early intervention policy for counseling officers who receive three of more citizen complaints in a year
• Requires that all department policies and collective bargaining agreements are made available to the public online
The bill also requires the Commission to develop a uniform process for complaints against law enforcement officers to be followed by each law enforcement agency which:
• Authorizes an individual who has a video recording to file a brutality complaint against a law enforcement officer
• Requires that complaints be signed under the penalty of perjury, instead of being sworn before a notary public
• Extends the deadline for filing a complaint against a law enforcement officer from 90 days to a year and a day
• Provides whistleblower protection for law enforcement officers
• Reduces the time that an officer under investigation can delay his/her interrogation from 10 days to 5 days in order to obtain representation or legal counsel
• Allows members of the public to serve on hearing boards
• Requires that hearings be open to the public
• Requires that complainants be informed of the final disposition of their complaints
In collaboration with the groups belonging to the Maryland Coalition for Justice and Police Accountability, we are supporting this legislation with amendments to:
• Prevent officers accused of brutality from choosing members of a hearing board
• Provide local civilian review boards with subpoena power to question officers accused of misconduct
• Remove altogether the existing 10-day delay in questioning accused officers
• Remove altogether the time limit on filing a complaint
• Further expand who can file a complaint
In addition, UULM-MD is supporting another bill aimed at altering the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights. HB 760 Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights - Alterations -was first filed by Delegate Carter in 2015, and its full analysis is available here.