The Justice & Peace Committee Racial Justice Advocacy Work Group focuses on legislative action in Annapolis with the support of ALCU. At our February Justice & Peace Committee Meeting, we identified the following 4 priority focus areas for legislative action in Annapolis:
- Passing the Trust Act to protect immigrants from ICE and abusive police practices.
- Repealing the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBR)
- Reforming the Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) to allow disclosure of police misconduct records.
- Establishing a statewide Use of Force policy for police officers
Joe Spielberger, Coordinator of our Justice & Peace Committee Racial Advocacy Work Group and Public Policy Counsel at ACLU, reported updated activity on these focus areas in Annapolis.
1) Trust Act: This bill was heard in the House on Wednesday, March 3rd. Now that the bill has been heard in both the House and the Senate, they are working to get the bill on the committee voting lists, so it can be moved to the House/Senate floor. Click here to let your representatives know to prioritize this.
2) LEOBOR: The General Assembly is in the process of repealing and replacing the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, but they are still pushing for more community oversight with regard to hearing boards so that non-law enforcement officers have power to hold officers accountable and enforce discipline.
3) MPIA: The Senate passed MPIA reform (Anton’s Law), that makes publicly available any investigatory record of police misconduct (with minor exceptions). There shouldn’t be any problems with the House on this. This is a very important bill for members of the public to see exactly how misconduct complaints are being investigated.
4) Use of Force: Through miscommunication and incompetence, the Senate managed to create an entirely new standard that is unconstitutional. However, the House did a really good job cleaning up the Senate’s mess in the Speaker’s bill. In March, they will pass out a bill that includes almost everything that we want on use of force. If this bill passes with this use of force language, it will be one of the strongest, if not the strongest restriction on use of force in the country.