My name is Joanna Silver and I live in District 18, in Silver Spring. I am a member of Takoma Park Mobilization, the Silver Spring Justice Coalition, and Jews United for Justice. All three of these organizations support a full repeal of LEOBR and oppose any legislation amending LEOBR in its current form.
I testify today on behalf of Jews United for Justice. Right now, Jews around the world are observing the Days of Awe, that time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur when we are called upon to examine our actions over the past year and to make teshuvah – a process of repentance in which we admit what we’ve done wrong, express our regret, and most important, vow not to repeat the misdeed.
The Maryland General Assembly committed a grievous wrong when it passed the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights many years ago. Through that action this body bestowed special due process rights upon police officers that no other public employee has. As a result, police in Maryland have repeatedly harmed members of our community, particularly Black and brown residents, who now fill our prisons in grossly disproportionate numbers and who have lost their lives through extra-judicial killings committed with no due process at all. In Silver Spring, there was no due process before Montgomery County Police Officers killed Emanuel Okutuga, Robert White, or Finan Berhe.
The family and friends of the victims of police misconduct and brutality come before this committee year after year asking you to admit what you’ve done wrong and to vow not to repeat the misdeed, and year after year, this committee has failed to act. Acting does not mean modifying or improving LEOBOR; it means full repeal. If this committee allows the key feature of LEOBR – the requirement that police officers control initial decisions over whether and how to discipline an officer who kills or abuses a resident – to stand, then nothing will change.
Real change, real action, real teshuvah, requires full repeal.
JUFJ urges a favorable report on SB JPR 15.