ANNAPOLIS, MD – A large, diverse coalition of over 60 groups from across the state are calling on Maryland legislators to support strong, renewed demands for police reform and accountability. Over the past few weeks, after the police killing of George Floyd and the national outcry that followed, elected leaders have issued countless statements, social media posts, and other expressions of solidarity with Black Marylanders who have suffered police abuse. The groups now urge legislators to act on those words and pass at least five impactful police reforms during the next Maryland General Assembly Legislative session.
Repeal the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBR). Even for police officers with a proven track record of abusing and killing Black and Brown people, our state still gives law enforcement special rights against punishment for wrongdoing under the LEOBR – the most extreme such law in the country. Since LEOBR was enacted, it has allowed police abuse to go unpunished. Now is the time for accountability, and accountability requires ending LEOBR.
Control of the Baltimore City Police Department must be restored to Baltimore City residents. Baltimore City, a majority Black jurisdiction, is the only locality in Maryland that does not govern its own police department. Because the Baltimore Police Department is controlled by the state, Baltimore residents must go to Annapolis to urge legislators to make changes to the policies and practices of their local police department. This must end.
Investigations into police misconduct must be transparent. The Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) currently blocks access to information about how police misconduct investigations are handled, wrongfully categorizing this information as confidential personnel files. This secrecy allows police departments to hide the details of police misconduct. Survivors of police misconduct, their families, and communities should have the right to know if their cases – all of their cases, without exception – are investigated properly or if they were even investigated at all.
Maryland must limit the use of force by law enforcement. Maryland is one of a few states that do not have a statutory limit on police officers’ use of force. For decades, officers have used violent and often deadly force against Black and Brown people, which is why legislators need to pass a law to address the use of force by law enforcement in Maryland.
Remove law enforcement from our children’s schools. Overwhelming evidence has proven that when there are police officers at schools, arrests of children substantially increase, even though disruptive behavior is often better addressed through nonpunitive supports and interventions. Instead of depending on School Resource Officers, we should shift our focus to hiring more trained counselors, social workers, psychologists, and behavioral specialists in schools.
Policing in Maryland is broken. Reforms are necessary, not optional. Anything short of enacting these five reforms is not acceptable.
Organizations Calling for Police Reform Include:
Advocates for Children and Youth
ACLU of Maryland
ACLU of Maryland, Montgomery County Chapter
Baltimore Action Legal Team
Baltimore Bern Unit
Baltimore City Civilian Review Board
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Office in Maryland
Caucus of African-Americans Leaders
Citizens Policing Project
Coalition for Justice for Anton Black
Coalition of Concerned Mothers
Common Cause Maryland
Community Actively Seeking Transparency (C.A.S.T.)
Disability Rights Maryland
Do the Most Good
Drug Policy Alliance
For Kathy’s Sake
Greater Baltimore Democratic Socialists of America - Steering Committee
Hispanic National Law Enforcement Association
Homeless Persons Representation Project
InterFaith Action for Human Rights
Jews United For Justice
Job Opportunities Task Force
Justice Policy Institute
Law Enforcement Action Partnership
Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle
League of Women Voters Maryland
LGBTQ Dignity Project
Life After Release
Mama Sisterhood of Prince George’s County
March for Our Lives Maryland
Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform
Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition
Maryland Justice Project
Maryland Poor People’s Campaign
Maryland Prisoners’ Rights Coalition
Maryland Restorative Justice Initiative
Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence
Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition
Montgomery County Democratic Socialists of America
Mothers on the Move
NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland
NAACP Maryland State Conference Political Action
Office of the Public Defender
Our Prince George’s
Out For Justice, Inc.
Planned Parenthood of Maryland
Prevent Gun Violence Ministry, River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation
Prince George’s People’s Coalition
Prisons to Professionals
Public Justice Center
Racial Justice NOW!
Rebuild, Overcome, and Rise (ROAR) Center at UMB
Reproductive Justice Inside
Showing Up for Racial Justice, Baltimore
Silver Spring Justice Coalition
Takoma Park Mobilization
Wicomico County NAACP Branch 7028
Women’s Law Center