As with many states across the nation, especially those under Democratic control, you won’t find it shocking that Maryland plans to make a few changes to their law enforcement. But unlike most, it isn’t really a defunding that is being considered. Instead, a legislative working group is proposing to simply end all their rights.
You may know that quite a few states have what is called a Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights or LEOBR. This is precisely what it sounds like, a bill that notes what rights police officers have as ‘non-civilians.’ You know, things like the right to participate in political activity, the right to a fair trial and council, and the right to secondary employment.
Naturally, as with any bill or legislation, some parts could use a little revision or ‘reform.’ After all, times change and, with it, new policies need to be implemented and old ones taken out. However, for the legislation working group talking about the bill, they’d rather scrap the whole thing, essentially taking away any and all officers’ rights, than work to make the necessary changes.
According to the Baltimore Sun, “The recommendation is one of several made Thursday by a House of Delegates workgroup and could form the basis of legislation that the General Assembly would consider when lawmakers return in January to Annapolis. Some lawmakers and activists have homed in on the law for years as problematic, but efforts to repeal it have fallen short.”
However, “Thursday’s move appears to be the first time a group of Maryland lawmakers endorsed repealing the law. The law spells out the disciplinary process for police, including affording officers accused of misconduct a five-day window before they must speak with investigators.”
Now, to make things clear, the vote was not a unanimous one. The working group is made up of ten Democrats and four Republicans. Can you guess which party all those in favor of repealing the law were from?
That’s right. They were all Democrats. Nine of the ten Democrats said they should get rid of the state’s LEOBR, while all four Republicans and one Democrat (a former sheriff) voted no on repealing it.
The latter group or the minority weren’t against changing things about the LEOBR. In fact, they recommended quite a few changes, including some major ones to the rule about being given five days of grace before officers must report to investigators should they be accused of misconduct.
While they noted that the rule undoubtedly gives the officers time to construct a defense for themselves, it also seems to imply that they need such time to cover up their crimes. It also doesn’t exactly seem fair since civilians or non-police are expected to immediately comply with law enforcement investigators.
Understandably, both sides of the table can see the reasoning behind doing away with this law. However, does that mean the whole bill should be written out of existence?
As the five-day rule proves, there are definitely some ‘reformations’ that need to be made. But there are also some laws and regulations that have served not only law enforcement but also the community very well in years past. In fact, many, if done away with, would create havoc within the ranks, as well as a vast number of situations.
Can you imagine what will happen to officers should allegations be put forward about wrongdoing without these rules? We might as well be handing them over the wolves, as they will have no rights whatsoever – not to council, not to a fair trial, not to reasonable interrogation conditions.
Could we even call this America if we allowed this to happen? For years, our constitution and bill of rights have been what set us apart from other nations. It is why every year, millions from around the world try to become American citizens, to experience the freedoms those founding documents grant us.
And yet, suddenly, the ones who have sworn to serve and protect us, the ones whose job it is to keep those freedoms in place, no longer have access to them?
How is that right or fair? These men and women go above and beyond every single day in the pursuit of keeping America a free and united nation. And apparently, the thanks they get, at least in Maryland, is to be treated as subhuman.