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State Senate committee will hold hearing on two police reform bills Thursday

Posted at 10:55 PM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-11 07:23:37-05

BALTIMORE — The issue of police reform took center stage in 2020 and this year it's one of the state legislature's top priorities.

There's already been a number of hearings on bills in the House of Delegates and Senate that focuses on transparency, while holding officers more accountable.

On Thursday, the Senate Judicial Proceedings committee will hold a hearing on two bills. One of them would repeal the Law Enforcement Bill of Rights (LEBOR) and another called "Anton's Law" that looks to make misconduct investigation records available to the public.

“The need for accountability is at its highest," said David Rocah, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Maryland.

Rocah supports the passing of the two bills and several others. He said LEBOR is a law that allows police to police themselves, which leads to cops not being held accountable.

“What often results is investigations that are really bias in favor of believing officers," he said.

He also said making misconduct and disciplinary records available, which would if Anton's Law was passed, will build trust between the community and police.

Under the current law, such records are considered personnel records and can’t be disclosed.

“Right now, the only thing that a police department can say is trust us we are doing the right thing but saying trust me is not how you earn trust.”

“It’s no longer a question about whether police brutality is a real thing," said Baltimore community activist Kwame Rose. "At this point, it becomes how long are we going to take before we start actually saving black lives from police.”

Rose supports the passing of the two bills as well, but said it won’t change policing overnight.

He still believes cutting the budget for police, and reallocating its resources to fund wrap around services is also what's needed to improve policing.

"It does not take over a half a billion dollars for a police department that clearly can’t do its job what we need to be investing that money in is the college graduates who are mental health experts and seeing what those individuals in crisis are going through and having them talk to a professional."

WMAR-2 News reached out to the Baltimore City Police Union, but we did not hear back.

However, the union's president did write an op-ed in a local newspaper saying he was against repealing the LEBOR.

He believes the law among many things protects good cops from unreasonable investigations.