Maryland state lawmakers detail police-reform ideas

A group of Maryland lawmakers have handed in a comprehensive report on reshaping law enforcement across the state.

Del. Vanessa Atterbeary — a Democrat who represents parts of Howard County and serves as the chair of the Workgroup to Address Police Reform and Accountability in Maryland — sent a letter to Speaker Adrienne Jones outlining 12 recommendations.

The guidance, Atterbeary said, is “sound, necessary and in line with measures that are being adopted or considered in other jurisdictions across the country.” According to the letter, a bill will be forthcoming in time for next year’s General Assembly.

Some of the recommendations include requiring all police departments to use body cameras by the year 2025. They also outline new use-of-force laws — such as a ban on chokeholds — and introduce stiffer punishments for officers.

“Imposing new criminal penalties on police officers so that if there’s an egregious situation where they used force, it could, in fact, lead to jail sentences of several years,” said Silver Spring-area Del. David Moon.

Any officer who violates such a use-of-force statute could face up to 10 years in prison.

Moon, a Democrat, is one of several members of the working group that was assembled by the state House speaker in the wake of last summer’s racial-justice protests.

Democrats have been pushing Gov. Larry Hogan to sign new police reform measures into law, but he has yet to signal if he’ll approve any forthcoming legislation.

“My hope is that the governor would get on board with some of that [recommendations],” Moon said. “It would be my prediction that a governor’s veto would be swiftly overridden by the legislature.”

Silver Spring Del. David Moon on possibility that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan won't sign police reform recommendations into law

The group is also calling for independent investigations into police shootings and mandating all officers undergo what’s billed as, “less-lethal force training,” in which officers would be taught to use weapons that are less likely to cause serious injury or death.

The Maryland General Assembly is set to convene in January.

Ken Duffy

Ken Duffy is a reporter and anchor at WTOP with more than 20 years of experience. He has reported from major events like the 2016 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, 2016 Election Night at Trump Headquarters in Midtown Manhattan and the 2007 Super Bowl in Miami.

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