Police reform bills to watch in Annapolis – especially next Thursday

mdstatehouseA raft of Maryland police and justice reform bills will get their first public reviews in Senate Judicial Proceedings committee hearings next Thursday, February 26th in Annapolis.

Here are the police and police-reform bills we’ll be watching*:

  • SB0566 (HB0968): Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights – Alterations
  • SB0413 (HB0339): Vehicle Laws – Race-Based Traffic Stops – Policy and Reporting Requirements
  • SB0653 (HB0112): Criminal Procedure – Police-Involved Death – State Prosecutor

While MCCRC supports these three bills, our feelings are more mixed about another one, despite its support by Senators Raskin, Madaleno, and other stalwart civil liberties advocates in the Maryland legislature:

  • SB0482 (HB0627): Public Safety – Law Enforcement Officers – Body-Worn Cameras

In part, we question the value of body cams for accountability in the first place, regardless of safeguards; in part, we don’t see enough of those safeguards in this bill.

To be sure, we very much welcome that this bill ensures that police can’t pick and choose when to activate their cameras, that they can’t use them to surveille constitutionally protected activities (i.e., demonstrations or meetings), and that retrospective investigative use must at least be based on reasonable suspicion (though we’d prefer a probable cause standard).  On the other hand, the bill doesn’t appear to set storage time limits — as recommended by the national ACLU.**  It’s also not (yet?) clear to us how strong its safeguards  are against sharing body cam video with federal agencies, or whether it prevents unwarranted, real-time comparison of streaming, live data against biometric or other datasets.

Finally, there’s one bill we’re decidedly against — and we’re relieved to see it has no support in the Senate, at least not yet:

  • HB0028: Primary and Secondary Education – Security – School Resource Officers

We’ll have more on the merits of  each of these bills in future posts.  Meanwhile, the statewide “Maryland Coalition for Justice and Equality” is preparing for a massive show of support for the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBOR) reform,”Driving While Black” traffic stop reporting, and state prosecutor bills:

  • The ACLU of Maryland is urging police reform supporters to show up in force next Thursday, and is especially interested in soliciting testimony about police abuses and reform
    • from police abuse victims or their family members
    • from concerned citizens and activists
  • Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle” in Baltimore are preparing to bring busloads of grassroots lobbyists to Annapolis on Thursday
  • MCCRC will host a town hall next week — the day after the February 26th Senate hearings, but just under two weeks before corresponding House hearings on March 12th — on the topic of police abuses and reform.

Stay tuned.

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* Senate bills are SB____,  the corresponding House bills are HB____.
** ACLU, Oct 2013: “Retention periods should be measured in weeks not years, and video should be deleted after that period unless a recording has been flagged.”

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2 Responses to Police reform bills to watch in Annapolis – especially next Thursday

  1. Pingback: Townhall on police abuses in Maryland: hear the stories, act for reform | Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition

  2. Pingback: Police reform town hall builds resolve for Annapolis March 12 action | Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition

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