ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — National voices, local leaders and the families of victims are calling for a shift from protest to policy in the form of a new bill introduced in the Maryland General Assembly on Monday.
The bill is being hailed as an aim to hold law enforcement officers accountable for actions deemed violent or deadly.READ MORE: Baltimore Mayor, Gov. Hogan Clash Over Available COVID Vaccine Doses For City Residents
House Bill 1049 would strip an officer of immunity if they’re found to be responsible for using excessive force. It would also make them susceptible to criminal charges or civil suits, depending on the case.
“HB 1049 tears down the shield that protects officers from liability and their accountability for misconduct,” Del. Jheanelle Wilkins (D-Montgomery County), the bill’s sponsor, said.
For retired Maryland State Police Maj. Neal Franklin, it’s partially about regaining community trust.
“We must hold accountable those who violate it, violate our trust,” he said.
But, he said, the focus is on holding the “bad apples” accountable.
“Police officers should be held to a higher standard than the average person,” he said. “They are trained in the law, we provide them with proven policies to follow… and we give them superior training.”READ MORE: FDA Advisory Committee Votes To Recommend Authorizing Johnson & Johnson's New COVID-19 Vaccine
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The bill is also backed by families like Nicole Wallace, who said her son Daquan was badly beaten and left for dead in 2014. He now suffers from a brain injury a court ruled was because of the neglect of Baltimore correctional officers.
His injuries left him confined to a wheelchair and unable to care for himself.
Local leaders and even the co-founders of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream are also in support of the push, saying police violence should be everyone’s problem.
“For too long, white people have sat on their hands while Black people are beaten and killed by bad cops,” Ben Cohen, one of the co-founders of the ice cream company, said.
The bill would also repeal the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, take away an officer’s eligibility in the field and strip them of their pension if they’re convicted of excessive use of force or other egregious acts.MORE NEWS: Suspect Killed In Police-Involved Shooting Near Baltimore's Inner Harbor Identified As Benjamin Tyson