ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Maryland’s Law Enforcement Bill of Rights could be repealed amid nationwide calls for policing reforms.
A state Senate hearing outside of session concluded a third day of hearings Thursday after discussing 15 bills aimed at reforming police departments.
Family members of those killed by police officers tested before the committee Thursday as members debate the bills.
Lawmakers are considering repealing the law enforcement bill of rights, which grants officers broad protections. Critics say it stands in the way of disciplining and prosecuting officers.
“In case after case, LEOBOR has made it harder for our office to investigate officer actions, harder to make charges stick,” Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said.
Mosby pointed out the bill of rights made her office’s job harder in a pair of high-profile cases: the death of Freddie Gray and the Gun Trace Task Force.
“The LEOBOR is not due process. It’s special rights and it has to end,” David Rocah with the ACLU of Maryland said.
The ACLU and others argue officers should be held to the same disciplinary standards as other public employees.
“It’s gone much further than it should have gone in protecting officers. It is now created the impasse we have now where law enforcement officers are treated differently than any other group out there,” Ken Williams, a former law enforcement officer, said.
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Michael Davey, counsel for the FOP, argued that without the bill of rights, every law enforcement agency in the state “would have the ability to create their own disciplinary process with no oversight.”
“Police officers do very difficult, dangerous jobs. They have to make life and death decisions all the time. They have to have some form of protections from political-based complaints,” Davey said.
Fifteen states, including Maryland, have law enforcement bill of rights-type legislation on the books.
The upcoming legislative session begins on January 13.