Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is calling for 11 changes to Maryland’s Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, which critics say is too protective of officers accused of wrongdoing, the Baltimore Sun reports. Nine of the changes were recommended by Maryland’s police chiefs and sheriffs. The mayor called them “common sense.” State law now says disciplinary actions against police go through a trial board that makes decisions based on the preponderance of the evidence. Before the board’s decision, an officer may be suspended without pay only if he or she is charged with a felony. The law gives officers 10 days to get an attorney before they can be questioned by superiors, and an officer may not be investigated for brutality unless the accusation was made within 90 days of the incident.
The Maryland Chiefs of Police Association and the Maryland Sheriffs Association have recommended extending the statute of limitations beyond 90 days and cutting in half the number of days an officer has to get an attorney and submit to questioning. The associations also recommend changing the law to authorize subpoena power for internal affairs investigations and allow commanders to fire officers more quickly if they are convicted of serious misdemeanors. Rawlings-Blake added two of her own recommendations: She wants police chiefs empowered to suspend without pay an officer charged with a serious misdemeanor and chiefs to have more time to review a trial board’s decision before deciding a final punishment. Police unions have resisted changes to the law.