It says officers could be fired at will by police chiefs.
Frederick, Md (KM) A bill in the 2021 Maryland General Assembly to do away with the police officers’ bill of rights is getting some pushback.
The original bill granting the bill of rights was passed in 1974 to provides police officers accused of misconduct or wrongdoing due process, and a chance to be heard by their superiors before any action is taken. “It prevents police chiefs. from going rogue because that’s how we got here,” says Clyde Boatwright, the President of the Maryland Fraternal Order of Police. “Prior to 1974, police chiefs had the full autonomy and they could just fire at will.”
Boatwright, who was a guest recently on the “Morning News Express” on WFMD, says it could be a power grab by police chiefs. “The Maryland police chiefs and sheriffs have an organization that, unfortunately, used the clarion call from across the country to defund police to use this opportunity for a power grab,” he says.
But Boatrwright said the FOP is not using the officers’ bill of rights to protect rogue officers or sweep problems of officer misconduct under the rug. “The FOP does not participate in abating criminal acts,” he says. “We’re not an organization that believes in that. We believe strongly in due process and that’s all we ask for is due process rights.”
If the legislation, known as Senate Bill 627, passes, Boatwright says the men and women serving as police officers could decided to quit. “In one of our jurisdictions down by Baltimore, we had two police officers just walked in the other day and turn in their stuff. One’s going up north to another police department, and another is going out west. They’re just tired of the reform calls. They’re tired of not being supported by their police chief.”
And, he says, the bill, if enacted, could make it difficult for police departments to hire and retain “the best and the brightest” officers. “I just think that will be detrimental for our society because crime will rise,” he said.
This legislation is sponsored by Senator Jill Carter who represents Baltimore City.
By Kevin McManus