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Local Pastor calls for more than police reform across Maryland

Posted at 5:55 PM, May 25, 2021

BALTIMORE — The death of George Floyd energized the need for new policies geared toward protecting citizens from officers who abuse their power.

Last month, Maryland lawmakers enacted laws that limit police officer's use of force, ousted the Bill of Rights for law enforcement established in the 1970s and created a role for civilian input to review cases of officer misconduct.

While the new state laws are more progressive regarding police than most states across the country, an area pastor asks whether they will create necessary change in the neighborhood where he lives in Baltimore.

"I don't think it does. Not one of them," said Reverend P.M. smith, the pastor of Huber Memorial Church.

Maryland's new laws only allow officers to use force in "an imminent threat of physical injury" so if those reviewing an officer's actions don't consider them to be necessary and proportional with the crime, he or she could face up to 10 years in prison as a result.

Reverend Smith argues that the policies put more pressure on those fighting crime than engaging in crime making note of Baltimore's more than 100 murders and 192 non-fatal shootings, which he calls failed murders.

While he commends the attempt to hold those in law enforcement accountable, he says the national narrative isn't the same as Baltimore's.

"The tragedy is whether its Mr. Floyd in that arena being killed by a white man who's also a police officer or a 26 year old man a member of this congregation who was shot dead on his way to get his daughter some snacks, the life has value and the loss of it impacts an entire family," the pastor told WMAR.

They don't remedy the problems that he encounters in his community. rather on the contrary weakens the authorities put in place to address them.

"With the legislation that has been passed, how does that affect recruitment for police officers? Does it? Does it affect it in the positive or negative way? Is it going to make recruitment harder," he questioned.

The root issues that create crime Rev. Smith feels should be addressed by lawmakers to improve Baltimore like education, access to employment, and building stronger family support systems through the community.

"That change needs to take place and I don't think the beginning point is City Hall or Annapolis. I think it needs to begin with the family," he said.