Maryland Repeals Police Bill of Rights

Lawmakers override governor's vetoes of police accountability legislation
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2021 4:40 PM CDT
State Overhauls Police Accountability Laws
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan delivers his annual State of the State address to a joint session of the legislature in Annapolis in February.   (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)

Maryland became the first state to throw out its Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights when lawmakers overrode the governor's vetoes of police accountability legislation on Saturday. Among other changes, the laws will allow citizens to participate in the disciplinary process involving police, the Washington Post reports. Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, had vetoed the bills passed by the Democratically controlled legislature on Friday night. "The Senate will take the necessary action to ensure that we can have safer communities and fairer policing throughout our state," Senate President Bill Ferguson said when the vetoes were announced, per the AP. None of Hogan's vetoes held up in either chamber. The governor said the legislation would "further erode police morale, community relationships, and public confidence."

Lawmakers had been working on the legislation for 10 months, starting after the protests over George Floyd's death began. A statewide use-of-force policy for police agencies is included in the package, as are limits on the use of no-knock warrants. The debate had included emotional testimony from Black legislators about how they and their family members had been mistreated by police officers. Maryland enacted the first Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights in 1974; about 20 states now have similar laws establishing procedures for investigating police misconduct. A new statute will replace Maryland's Bill of Rights. "This is not anti-police legislation; this is equality and fairness legislation," Del. Vanessa Atterbeary said, naming more than a half-dozen people who were killed in clashes with police in Maryland. "This was painstakingly put together for Black and Brown folks in our state." (More police misconduct stories.)

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