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Last updated March 5, 2020
No knock warrants
Maine has not yet enacted a law eliminating the use of no-knock warrants.
Maine has not yet enacted a law ending its participation in programs that facilitate the transfer of military weapons from the federal government to police departments.
Military style training
Maine police officers are required to complete 2 hours of de-escalation training every year. They are also required to complete 40 hours of training every two years, including 10-12 hours on a rotating series of topics. 2016 topics included implicit bias and autism. In light of the George Floyd protests, the Maine law enforcement agencies collaborated to write and release a document outlining the police policies of the state. The report confirms the elective training for implicit bias.
Maine has not yet enacted a law requiring the recording and cataloging of SWAT team use.
Civil asset forfeiture
Maine technically has state laws requiring that law enforcement agencies must report all property and cash seized to the Commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services and the Office of Fiscal and Program Review. Departments are required to deposit proceeds into the state's general fund. However, a recent investigation has revealed that, as of 2018, the office has not been receiving quarterly reports. The last time a department deposited forfeiture profits into the state general fund was in 2010. The reporting news sources suggest that this means Maine police departments are keeping the profits for themselves rather than reporting them and depositing them in the general fund.
Maine has not yet enacted a law ending quotas for low-level arrests. A leaked memo in 2009 suggested that police departments see quotas as a money-making initiative. The memo described a police chief in Bangor, Maine who wanted to up the number of traffic citations made as a way to raise revenue.
Cost of misconduct
Maine has not yet enacted a law requiring police departments (not state general funds) to cover the cost of misconduct. In December 2020, the Maine Association of Police announced an increase in monthly union dues to fund a legal defense fund for officers charged with crimes or sued for conduct on duty. This action further stymies attempts at enforcing financial accountability for officers.
Maine has legalized marijuana, but most other non-violent crimes remain criminalized in some way.
Objective justification for stops
Maine has not yet enacted a law requiring officers to establish objective justification for making a stop (i.e. not simply for furtive movement, suspicious activity, or matching a generalized description). Maine permits both objective and subjective reasoning as examples of reasonable suspicion to stop an individual.
Reporting stop details
Maine has not yet enacted a law requiring comprehensive reporting of police stops (noting location, race, gender, whether force was used and whether a firearm was found). In 2019, Rep Criag Hickman (one of the few black legislators in Maine) sponsored LD 1475 to direct police to collect data about people’s race, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status or religion, so the Maine attorney general’s office could examine whether police agencies were profiling residents. Sadly, the bill died in committee, and the Department of Public Safety did not support the bill at the time of its proposal.
Reckless civil rights violation
Maine has not yet enacted a law lowering the prosecution requirement from ‘willful’ to ‘reckless’ deprivation of another’s rights.
The Attorney General's Office investigates every use of deadly force by law enforcement officers to determine whether there was a legal basis to act in a potentially fatal way. However, in the 100 investigations since 1990, the office has never found that an officer wasn't justified. This suggests that the responsibility of the investigation should be delegated to a more objective party.
Maine has not yet enacted a law ending qualified immunity.
Mental health response
Since 2001, Maine has implemented Crisis Intervention Training programs at the state level. The programs are free for any department who wishes to enroll, and follow the standard models of training officers and diverting mentally ill individuals to hospitals instead of jails. Maine requires at least 20% of officers in each Maine law enforcement agency to be certified in Mental Health First Aid training (MHFA) or Crisis Intervention Team training (CIT). Though the program efforts are admirable and award winning (2007 SAMHSA Science to Service Award), they still involve dispatching police to mental health crisis situations rather than immediately sending social service workers.
Education, Housing, Community Health Resources
It is important to note that policing does not address the roots of social disadvantage and barriers to (economic) opportunity that often lead to crime. Nor should police be burdened with that responsibility.
Without access to quality resources in healthcare, education, and housing, our cities, neighborhoods, and families will continue to suffer. We should instead reassess the budgets of the state government and reinvest in the services that matter most.
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