A bipartisan group of Maryland legislators this week will begin work to develop recommendations for improving police training and enhancing police-community relations, reports the Washington Post. The panel was tasked with providing the General Assembly legislative proposals to improve public safety and policing practices. The committee's effort comes six weeks after riots broke out in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered a severe spinal cord injury while in police custody. Gray died a week after sustaining the injury. Six police officers have been charged.
State Sen. Catherine Pugh, who walked throughout Baltimore trying to spread calm during the state of emergency imposed because of the unrest, will be the work group's co-chairperson. She said she looks forward to developing strong proposals that will change how police are hired and how they interact with residents. Pugh said she is particularly interested in reviewing diversity training for law enforcement officers and looking at how often officers have psychiatric evaluations. State Sen. Jamie Raskin, part of the 20-member group, said, “There is this bipartisan consensus that too many people are being swept up in the process for nonviolent and victimless offenses. That, he said, helped lead to the passage of several bills designed to help ex-offenders turn their lives around. Among them was one giving former offenders the ability to expunge some of their criminal records or shield long-ago or minor convictions from public view.