Maryland legislators’ plans to boost police accountability and transparency took shape yesgterday as a task force approved 22 recommendations aimed at restoring trust in law enforcement, the Baltimore Sun reports. Democratic leaders will push a bill that would grant more rights to victims of police brutality, roll back special rights given to police accused of wrongdoing, create a unified complaint system for tracking problem officers and allow the public to watch police disciplinary boards. “What we’ve done here, it’s monumental,” said Delegate Curt Anderson, a Baltimore Democrat and co-chair of the Public Safety and Policing Work Group that developed the recommendations. “We have opened up a process that has been closed and secret in this state.”
A lobbyist for the state’s police union said that while his group respected the task force’s work, it did not support the recommendations. “At this point we remain opposed to any and all changes,” said Frank Boston III, the lobbyist for the Maryland Fraternal Order of Police. The bipartisan panel suggested three changes to the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, a state law known by its acronym, LEOBR, which affords protections to officers under investigation for misconduct. The group suggested cutting in half the time officers can wait before speaking to investigators, from 10 days to five. Under the task force’s proposal, victims of police brutality would have a year to file a complaint — four times longer than under current law — and be guaranteed an investigation. In addition to opening all police trial boards to public scrutiny, the group proposed striking down a state law that prevents citizens from serving on those boards.