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Maryland state senator says lawmakers have "greater will" to address police reform after death of George Floyd

Annapolis
Posted at 10:41 PM, Jun 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-15 23:26:56-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The calls for police reform continue to grow louder across the country in response to the death of George Floyd, which sparked worldwide protests.

The state legislature will look to address policing during the next legislative session.

Maryland State Sen. Jill P. Carter said the cries for change during the demonstrations are reminiscent of 2015 after Freddie Gray died in police custody. But, Carter added legislation passed back then to address police reform came up short.

“We’ve been here before to a smaller degree in 2015 during the Baltimore uprising after Freddie Gray and that did not transform into substantive policy," she said

Carter said this time is different and believes changes could be made to laws that critics say have shielded police for far too long.

“Law enforcement officers have that ability to impose the death penalty with no repercussions, so that is what our laws do," Carter said.

One of the laws that has faced scrutiny during the protests in Baltimore and around the country is the Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights. It was a law passed in 1974 and was intended to give them greater due process rights.

“What it really does is shield law enforcement officers in secrecy," she said.

Carter said that law has allowed police to essentially police themselves—rendering civilian review boards powerless.

She’s also pushing to make complaints against police officers and disciplinary records public as well as repealing qualified immunity—a legal doctrine that makes it nearly impossible to sue a police officer.

“I do believe there is a greater will at least in the Maryland Senate to pass substantial legislation," Carter said.

Carter said it's unlikely lawmakers will be called back for a special session to address police reform. She said the first set of bills on policing could come to a vote by January during the next legislative session.

"We will be holding hearings on police reform bills in the fall and then hopefully be prepared to pass some when session begins in January," she said.