Group calls for police reform in Maryland

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Activists gathered outside the Maryland state capital Thursday afternoon calling for police reform. It came ahead of a meeting of a general assembly work group tasked with examining police policies in the state.

“We want to see changes made to the way police are policing our community,” said Gerald Stansbury, Maryland State Conference NAACP President.

There were calls for more transparency at police departments, more civilian involvement in the recruitment and oversight of police officers, and changes to the Maryland Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights.

Many protesters also pulled for tougher punishments for officer found guilty of misconduct.

“We will not stop until killer cops are in cell blocks,” said Tawanda Jones, whose brother Tyrone West died while in police custody in 2013. The officers involved in the case were never charged.

Reverend Huber Brown of the Pleasant Hope Baptist Church was critical of lawmakers ahead of the panel meeting.

“When Baltimore goes up now all of a sudden, when the national media is on you, now all of a sudden you want to take serious actions,” Brown said.

“I have no preconceived notions but I do believe that we’ll come up with something that public will be pleased with,” said State Senator Catherine Pugh, who is participating with the panel.

“We’re open to having a conversation about a number these issues that have basically been brought to the forefront,” said Vince Canales, who attended the work group.

Canales says certain segments of the community are taking a very broad brush approach to painting all law enforcement officers as bad, which isn’t true. With cases involving allegations of misconduct against officers, Canales says the current system needs to be trusted.

“We have to have faith in this process and up to date, it has worked,” Canales said.

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