ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Police reform was front and center in Annapolis on Tuesday afternoon.
State lawmakers are considering several bills focused on transparency and accountability. One of them even includes what is allowed when recording a police incident.READ MORE: COVID-19 In Maryland: More Than 1K New Cases & 17 Deaths Reported Sunday
It’s called the Police Reform and Accountability Act of 2021 and it got its first reading in the state senate.
Lawmakers debated the language of the sweeping bill, and things got heated at times when the topic of police recordings was discussed.
It’s something that most recently has come up in the George Floyd murder trial.
Locally, back in June 2018, a viral video showed a heated exchange between a Baltimore County Police officer and a young man in a Khol’s store.
Just two months later, another viral video surfaced, this time showing a Baltimore City Police officer pummeling a man.
Under this new bill, law enforcement would be prohibited from preventing people from recording incidents if they are, “otherwise acting lawfully.” “I think it can just say ‘and safely’ … ‘lawfully and safely…'” Senator Jeff Waldstreicher said.READ MORE: 5-Year-Old Grazed By Bullet In Southwest Baltimore, Police Say
“It is absolutely overprescribing to add safely, which is inferred already,” Senator Jill Carter said. “I’m embarrassed that we would think that would be something we should add to the law.”
Some lawmakers raised concerns about the officers’ safety when the person recording gets too close.
“When you put yourself in the position of that police officer and there’s somebody standing there and you make it night time when you can not see you can’t tell exactly what’s in their hands,” Senator Jack Bailey said.
“The fact that someone pulls out a camera phone and films me performing my duty is one thing, but I have to have the right to be able to say, ‘look, you need to stand back a bit,'” Senator Michael A. Jackson said.
Others, like Senator Charles Sydnor, fired back.
“This is the argument that they are making in the Chauvin case right now,” he said. “I mean, I think it’s ridiculous. The fact of the matter is if you’re out there performing a public duty, the courts have already said that the public is allowed to record.”MORE NEWS: COVID-19 In Maryland: 1.5K New Cases & 17 Deaths Reported Saturday
This is a sweeping bill. It would also eliminate no knock warrants, address officer training and certification and repeal the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights.