2016: POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY
April 2016: In the final hours of the General Assembly’s 2016 session, MD legislators passed HB1016, which reformed law enforcement with common sense provisions that raise up citizen voices:
- Allowing anonymous reporting of police misconduct .
- Requiring most trial board hearings to be open to the public .
- Removing the notarization requirement for police misconduct complaints .
- Extending the brutality complaint filing period from 90 days to 1 year and a day.
- Allowing a third party with first-hand knowledge of misconduct, such as a video recording, to file a complaint .
We fought throughout the session for several key elements that weren’t ultimately part of the final bill. Most importantly, we demanded that civilians be included and given voting power on police trial boards. The final bill stops short of this, but enables police chiefs and commissioners to appoint up to two civilians to police trial boards in their jurisdiction, with or without voting power. Now, we must push for local police chiefs and commissioners to appoint those civilians and allow them to vote. Unfortunately we weren’t able to win investigatory power for civilian review boards, another policy we and our allies fought hard to include.
We didn’t get everything we wanted, but even this partial victory should be seen as a huge success. Your calls for justice, accountability, and transparency in policing were heard and this victory is a significant step forward.