The Washington Post published this OpEd on September 2, 2022.
Every time there is an opportunity to give the community control of the police, Maryland Democrats at every level who say they support police accountability squander it by backing amendments pushed by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).
Community oversight of law enforcement is the most effective way to deter negative police behavior and the dehumanization of Black and Brown people, because it gives the community the power to hold accountable those who harm its members. Because the likelihood of getting caught deters crime and misconduct, it is painfully evident in Maryland and nationwide that police cannot police themselves. But again and again, we see that those who claim to want change instead reassert the dangerous, ineffective approach of deferring to the police.
In 2021, Democratic leaders in the Maryland House and Senate pledged to repeal the infamous Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR) and give the community a more significant role in police discipline. However, the bill to replace the LEOBR was watered down by amendments pushed by the FOP over the objections of community members, advocates and allied legislators. The amendments included requiring that internal police trial boards maintain final decision-making power and, worst of all, stripping external community oversight boards of the ability to conduct independent investigations, issue subpoenas and have final decision-making powers. Furthermore, the implementation of local Police Accountability Boards (PABs) in every county and Baltimore City, as mandated by the Maryland Police Accountability Act (MPAA) of 2021, further proves that police unions exert a great deal of power and influence over the new disciplinary process.