ANNAPOLIS, Md. (7NEWS) — In the mid-’70s, Maryland was the first state in the country to institute the police Bill of Rights and about 20 states have since adopted similar measures.
Now, Maryland is the first state to repeal its original historic bill.
These police accountability measures include provisions to increase the civil liability limit on lawsuits involving police from $400,000 to $890,000. An officer convicted of causing serious injury or death through excessive force would face 10 years in prison.
Statewide use-of-force policy, an expansion of public access to some police disciplinary records, harsher penalties for cases involving excessive use of force, new limits on no-knock warrants, and a statewide body-camera mandate.
Law enforcement leaders such as the Sheriff in Harford County say this sets a dangerous precedent.
Jeffrey Gahler, the Sheriff in Harford County says, “As I have consistently maintained, no one wants bad police officers on their force or on the streets. To be equally as clear, the process, tools, and laws already existed to allow police leadership to fire those officers who should not be in service to our communities. Stripping away a proven due process system is not police reform.”
Maryland’s General assembly has taken drastic action to address police violence in the state. These police reform measures have passed with more than the three-fifths votes needed to override Governor Larry Hogan's vetoes.
The state’s law covers the due process for officers accused of misconduct. Advocates for repeal have called it one of the most extreme in the nation. The new law will also give more oversight power to civilians.
Jeff Waldstreicher, a Democrat who represents Maryland’s 18th District says, “When black and brown Marylanders lose their trust in the police force, their police force, it is like acid slowly eating through the framework of our democracy. When we lose trust, we risk the outcome that president Lincoln warned us about, that our nation may perish from this earth.”
In his veto letter, Governor Larry Hogan expressed concern that the police reform bills will damage police recruitment and retention, posing significant risks to public safety.