Maryland Catholic conference focuses on racial justice

As efforts aimed at police reform sweep the nation, Washington Catholic Archbishop Wilton Gregory has called on Maryland lawmakers to push ahead with their plans.

In a virtual town hall meeting Tuesday night, the Catholic leader said social media highlights controversial deadly encounters by police, but most police are dedicated guardians of public safety. However, Gregory said reform efforts are still needed.

“Until we can get to the point where a young Black kid, a young Black man, can feel safe when he’s encountering a police officer, we’ve got to talk,” Gregory said.

The online session, which the Maryland Catholic Conference conducted, was told by a key state lawmaker that police policies and procedures are being reviewed before recommendations are made to the General Assembly in its next session.

“Here in the state of Maryland, we are not having conversations about defunding the police. But we are looking at ways in which we can reallocate funds for mental health training and counseling that the police department should not be doing but other subject matter experts in those fields,” said Del. Darryl Barnes, a Democrat who represents the Prince George’s County area.

An official with the state Fraternal Order of Police told the town hall that the group will not stand in the way of needed reforms.

“We have the same aim as everybody else; we want transparency; we want bad officers to be held accountable; and we want good officers to be praised,” said William Milam, vice president Maryland State Fraternal Order of Police.

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