Maryland’s state senators on Thursday approved a sweeping police reform bill that revamps the disciplinary process for problem police officers, reports the Baltimore Sun. The bill removes the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, a 1970s law that affords protections for police officers accused of wrongdoing or crimes on the job. In its place is a multi-step system that includes an investigation, a charging board that would recommend discipline, and a trial board for officers who want to challenge their discipline. Civilians would have roles in parts of the process.
Racial equality and social justice advocates have long argued that the previous bill of rights resulted in too few bad police officers facing consequences for their actions and that there’s little meaningful oversight of the process. The bill also increases the maximum amount of payouts in lawsuits against police departments and makes it possible for police to lose their pensions for committing certain crimes. However, the bill still faces hurdles before it can be signed into law by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.