ANNAPOLIS — A bill named in honor of the Baltimore police officer killed in the line of duty last year has passed the State Senate. But it's a much different bill than what was originally proposed.
Officer Keona Holley was shot while sitting in her patrol car in the Curtis Bay neighborhood back in December. She died a week later after being taken off life support.
Senate Bill 652, better known as the 'Officer Keona Holley Public Safety Act' was proposed by Republican State Senator Bob Cassily. It originally would have made it impossible for anyone convicted of killing or attempting to kill a police officer to get parole.
On the Senate floor Tuesday, some Democratic senators brought up issues with the bill's wording. "Any murder is heinous, no matter who the victim," said State Senator Jill Carter. "But I don't think the right policy for Maryland is to create stand alone offenses for a person based on their profession."
Carter introduced an amendment revising the bill. Now, it has nothing to do with parole for a person who murders or tries to murder a police officer. Instead, the bill expands the state's fund to provide college scholarships to the children of first responders killed in the line of duty. That amendment passed in the Senate by a 26-16 vote.
Republicans in the State Senate say Democrats "gutted" the Officer Keona Holley Act.
“Today is a sad day in the history of the Maryland Senate,” said Cassilly. “I thought we had seen the worst of anti-police sentiment, but I was wrong and frankly shocked that my Democratic colleagues would allow parole for cop killers. Our law enforcement officers deserve our support, but instead they received yet another slap in the face from the General Assembly.”
PRESS RELEASE: Maryland Senate Votes to Give Parole to Cop Killers— Maryland Senate Republicans (@MDSenateGOP) March 29, 2022
During today’s Floor Session, Senate Democrats voted to allow parole for cop killers by voting for an amendment that effectively gutted SB 652 – the Officer Keona Holley Public Safety Act. pic.twitter.com/Je1ZKX7tAq
Baltimore City's Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 also issued a scathing statement, indicating they weren't surprised by the Senate majority's move to dismantle the bill.
"I'm sure none of you are surprised by the continued anti-police sentiment of many of the elected officials in Annapolis, even after our murders," said FOP 3 President, Mike Mancuso.
"This bill was about making a strong statement in the face of a premeditated, heinous murder of a woman who gave up a secure and great career as a nurse to become a police officer because she wanted to help the city that she loved," said State Senator Justin Ready. "She was exactly the kind of person that we want in law enforcement, particularly in the troubled situation that Baltimore has had. She was targeted because she was a police officer and murdered in a heinous fashion and we're going to strike the bill to take out the punishment. It's wrong."
Baltimore City Police have two men in custody charged in connection to Keona Holley's murder. They are being held without bail.
You can read the full language of the bill here.