ACLU of Md. joins coalition to continue calling for police reform
MARYLAND – The ACLU of Maryland and more than 75 other activist groups are asking the General Assembly to consider five demands during their next legislative session. The demands deal with police reform across the state.
They’re asking to repeal the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights. “Law enforcement officers shouldn’t have special rights that a government or citizens don’t have. Especially because these individuals have the power of life or death in their hands and should be held to a higher standard than regular citizens do,” said Public Policy Advocate for the ACLU of Maryland Yanet Amanuel.
Amanuel says the groups are also asking for reform the Public Information Act to allow public knowledge of all complaints of police misconduct. “We need access to police misconduct records and we need access to unsustained reports as well. The majority of complaints that are filed against police are found unsustained,” said Amanuel.
The ACLU of Maryland is also asking to establish a statewide use of force policy that will prevent officers from using force unless necessary. “The law that we are currently defaulting to is looking at whether an officer using a reasonable amount of force necessary. We’re looking to implement whether officers’ use of force is necessary,” said Amanuel.
The fourth demand is to remove school resource officers from schools. “Just last year there were 3,100 school arrests, and 70% were for school fights. It’s mostly black and latinx children that are being arrested – and for things that are simple things that children get in trouble for all the time,” said Amanuel.
Lastly – they want to let the Baltimore City Police Department be controlled by the city and not the state.
The ACLU of Maryland says that these are just the first steps that need to be taken. “There’s so many ways that policing Maryland is broken – and to even begin addressing all of the other problems, we have to first try to address some of the root problems. So that is transparency and accountability over policing and getting rid of laws that give special rights to police officers,” said Amanuel.
Amanuel says that she’s hopeful that the General Assembly will make moves toward getting these steps done. She says that recently the ACLU has seen increased support from the public for these demands. “The outpouring of calls that we’ve gotten from community members – especially directly impacted family members that have lost loved ones – is why I’m a little bit more optimistic. They’re joining the fight and are on the forefront,” said Amanuel.