Police Reform Bill Heading To The Governor

It was passed on Wednesday by the Md. Senate.









Annapolis, Md (KM) A comprehensive and controversial police reform bill is heading to Governor Larry Hogan. The package was approved this week by the Maryland General Assembly.

The legislation repeals job protections for police officers, and institutes a statewide use-of-force policy.

Frederick County Delegate Ken Kerr says there are also new procedures for traffic stops. “The police officer has tell you why he pulled you over. The other way around, it was really asking you to self-incriminate,” he says. “Also he has to make his name and badge number available to you.”

There’s also a measure limiting the use of no-knock warrants, which police departments use to locate and recover such items  illegal drugs and stolen guns. “You have to serve a no-knock warrant during daylight hours unless you can prove there’s imminent danger or death to someone in the home,” says Kerr.

Critics have said limiting the use of no-knock warrants will make them more difficult to obtain. Kerr disagrees. “You just have to demonstrate there’s a need for the no-knock warrant,” he says. “There’s certain criteria you have to present before the judge before the judge will sign the warrant.”

The package of bills expands public access records on  police disciplinary cases. Opponents have said it will expose unproven  allegations  to the public about police officers charged with misconduct, and some in the public will believe these allegations are true. ‘It does say some things about police records in the police accountability board. But it has provisions in there to protect witnesses, to protect victims and the protect the officer’s family,” Kerr says.

The legislation also sets up a police accountability board in each county, and will have civilian representation.

A number of critics say these reforms will mean a lot of police officers will resign from their departments, and some will apply for early retirement; and it could discourage young people from considering a career as a police officer.  . “I don’t think that police officers will be leaving in mass numbers, or that young people will choosing not to become police officers as a result of these reforms. We’ll just have to wait and see,” Kerr responded. “The bill doesn’t go into effect until 2022.”

He noted there is a provision in the legislation that  provides tuition assistance for existing officers and scholarships for people who want to become police officers.


By Kevin McManus