WBOC.COM – February 24, 2021 – Maryland was the first state to implement a police bill of rights. It could also be the first state to repeal it.
Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis isn’t too happy with lawmakers at the moment. Sheriff Lewis says any attempt to repeal the LEOBR is misguided.
“Quite frankly I’m disgusted with it because what the lawmakers in Annapolis would really like to do is have civilians tell us how to do our jobs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” the sheriff says.
The Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights was implemented in 1974. Almost 50 years ago. One of its key components is providing due process for officers accused of misconduct. Officers are also given up to five days to make a statement if they find themselves under investigation, which Sheriff Lewis agrees needs to change. “I would like the ability to get rid of a deputy much quicker, much quicker than we currently do.”
Salisbury Police Chief Barbara Duncan says the current disciplinary process needs updating, but worries about a complete repeal.
“That would leave us with individual jurisdictions developing their own process and their own procedures and every jurisdiction is going to be different as far as what’s applicable and what’s not. I think it would be a better result for accountability with a standardized process,” Chief Duncan says about the potential for law enforcement agencies across the state to determine what they deem misconduct.
Community leaders, like D’Shawn Doughty, president of the Salisbury Jaycees, hopes legislators can rework the bill to level the playing field when it comes to accountability. “I know different jurisdictions in the state and on the Eastern Shore have different rules and regulations and we just want to see it’s all the same across the board.”
The bill currently sits in the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. It will go for a second hearing in the weeks ahead.
Lawmakers in Annapolis are also considering other bills aimed at police reform. They include independent investigations into officer-involved-deaths; a standard use of force which will eliminate the use of choke-holds, as well as the restriction of no-knock warrants. [full article source]