“Please make comprehensive police reform legislation, including LEOBR repeal, a priority for the 2021 Maryland legislative session.”

Takoma Park Mobilization testified on August 6, 2020, before a Maryland House of Delegates Workgroup to Address Police Reform and Accountability in Maryland. Here’s what we had to say:

August 6, 2020

Delegate Atterbeary and members of the workgroup, thank you for the opportunity to comment today on police reform and accountability in Maryland.

Our testimony is on behalf of Takoma Park Mobilization, an advocacy organization with 2,000 members in the Takoma Park-Silver Spring area, active in environmental, justice, and economic matters. 

We appreciate your efforts to study sensible, necessary changes to state law to improve public safety and boost police accountability. We have discussed this initiative and other reform possibilities within our group’s Equal Justice committee, with organizations including the ACLU,  and with our representatives including notably Senate Judicial Proceedings Chair Will Smith. 

We recently joined dozens of other advocacy organizations in calling for five major reforms: 

  1. Allow investigations into all police misconduct to be disclosed under the Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA).
  2. Create statutory limits on the use of force by law enforcement.
  3. Repeal the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBR).
  4. Give the people of Baltimore the ability to govern the Baltimore City Police.
  5. Take law enforcement out of schools.

We reiterate this call and reinforce the need for the House to listen to its resident constituents rather than deferring to Fraternal Order of Police chapters and police-department and prosecutor lobbyists. 

Reform should be enacted with an eye towards shifting of legislative and funding priorities away from policing and toward other ways to keep our communities safe. 

Regarding LEOBR repeal, we call for replacement with state standards and mandates for meaningful civilian oversight and access to disciplinary records and databases, among other points. While we find attractive the notion of empowering Maryland’s police chiefs to handle matters under their purview without current constraints, Maryland needs state transparency and accountability standards that can not be negotiated away in concessions to local police fraternal orders.

Please make comprehensive police reform legislation, including LEOBR repeal, a priority for the 2021 Maryland legislative session.