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The protests that followed the killing of Freddie Gray are a direct result of current policies that restrict transparency in the way police departments operate and address misconduct, damaging the relationship between them and the communities they serve. Law enforcement officers occupy unique positions of power in our society–a necessity to ensure public safety–but also devastating when abused. There have been far too many instances of officer misconduct throughout Maryland. It’s time to take critical action to rein in the abuse of police power and rebuild communities' trust.
Maryland is one of many states fighting for sensible police reforms that protect the public and officers alike. Community actions across the state have pressured the legislature to seek measures to increase police accountability. Current laws make reporting misconduct difficult and provide little to no transparency for the public into how these complaints are handled.
Progressive Maryland, as part of the Maryland Coalition for Justice and Police Accountability–a coalition of activists, faith-based, nonprofit, and civic organizations–has introduced a legislative package to achieve meaningful police reforms that will protect the public, protect law-abiding officers, and rebuild trust between law enforcement and communities by:
• Making filing complaints regarding officer misconduct easy and accessible.
• Increasing transparency by making department policies accessible to the public.
• Creating an independent police training commission consisting of law enforcement professionals and experts to develop and implement best practices in policing and disciplinary procedures.
• Implementing anti-discrimination training, de-escalation training, and modernizing recruitment to increase department diversity.
• Developing a uniform certification process that ensures officers are well-trained.
• Ensuring the protection of police officers who report police misconduct.
• Supporting mental health evaluations for officers following any traumatic event and establishing a confidential mental health hotline for officers.
• Implementing best practices for community policing, increasing state funding for community policing programs, and providing incentives for officers to live and work in their own communities.
Take a stand along with other Maryland residents to demand the General Assembly pass meaningful police accountability legislation.