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Last updated March 5, 2020
No knock warrants
Maryland has not yet enacted a law eliminating the use of no-knock warrants. Locally, the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office announced in October that her office would no longer authorize no-knock warrants. However, this practice is not legally binding, and can be changed by the next administration.
Pending Legislation: S419, passed in the Senate and sent to the House in March 2021, bans the use of no-knock warrants.
In 2019, Maryland passed SB 210 requiring that the Department of State Police collect data on the acquisition of equipment from any federal surplus program, report that data to the Governor and General Assembly at the end of every calendar year, and prominently display a link to that data on the Department of State Police website.
Pending Legislation: SB 599, passed in the Senate and sent to the House in March 2021, bans local agencies from receiving "receiving a weaponized aircraft, drone, or vehicle, a destructive device, a firearm silencer, or a grenade launcher from a federal military surplus program."
Military style training
Maryland has not yet enacted a law refocusing training away from self-defense responses and towards community centered training like that offered by Blue Courage. Maryland's Police Training and Standards Commission, the agency responsible for training law enforcement officers in the state, requires new officers to go through de-escalation and anti-discrimination training. However, the agency does not endeavor to emphasize community policing over a militaristic response.
Beginning in Spring 2009, Maryland law required that every law enforcement agency with a SWAT team record and submit data about the team's deployments, according to Maryland's public safety article 3-507. In 2017, the state also passed a law detailing information including the race/gender/age of the target of any deployment, the firearm use during the process of the deployment, the alleged crime, and any injuries resulting from the proceedings.
Civil asset forfeiture
In 2016, Maryland updated its reporting standards for civil asset forfeitures, but it has not banned the practice.
In 2006, Maryland banned a law enforcement agency from using the number of citations made by an officer as the 'sole or primary criterion for promotion, demotion, dismissal, or transfer.'
Cost of misconduct
Maryland has not yet enacted a law requiring police departments (not state general funds) to cover the cost of misconduct.
Maryland has not yet enacted a law decriminalizing minor offenses that do not threaten public safety such as spitting and loitering. Locally, many towns/cities de-prioritized the policing of minor offenses (also called Quality of Life Offenses). In Policy 1018, Quality of Life Offenses - Core Legal Elements by the Police Commissioner in Baltimore City, it states that "A verbal warning and counseling is preferable to a criminal/civil citation, and a criminal/civil citation is preferable to an arrest".
Objective justification for stops
Maryland does not require objective justification for police stops, and does not require officers to make detailed reporting of each stop by including race, gender, use of force, and presence of a firearm.
Reporting stop details
"The Maryland General Assembly has passed a law requiring police departments to report whom they stop and search" but the data filings are incomplete and unreliable. Although incomplete reporting can be accidental, the collection and reporting of the data makes it difficult to draw conclusions.
HB 139 would require each local law enforcement agency in Maryland to post online, every six months, the “age, sex, gender, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, and disability of the individuals on whom force was used.” HB 139 also mandates officers exhaust all alternatives before turning to deadly force.
Reckless civil rights violation
Maryland has not yet enacted a law which eliminates the requirement that an officer must "willfully" deprive another's rights in order to be prosecuted.
Maryland has not yet enacted a law institutionalizing an independent prosecutor within the state’s Department of Justice for instances of police misconduct. Locally, Montgomery County requires that, following the death of any person after an encounter with police officers, two independent investigators from "an independent law enforcement entity" must be appointed to open an inquiry and publicly publish their final report.
SB 600, passed the Senate in and moved to the House March 2021, requires local state's attorneys to forward to the Maryland Office of the Investigator "a copy of the investigatory file and any other relevant information" for cases of police-involved deaths. The bill also empowers the Office of the Investigator to independently review the local report, and prosecute any officers for whom prosecution is warranted.
Maryland has not ended/restricted police officer qualified immunity.
Mental health response
Maryland has not yet enacted a law creating and funding a mental health task force available to respond to crisis calls (in lieu of police). In Jan. 2020, Sen. Pinsky introduced SB 454 requiring police officers and first responders to complete mental health awareness training. However, the bill was vetoed in March. Some cities, like Baltimore, have Crisis Response teams. However, these systems did not protect Ricky Walker Jr., who was shot by Baltimore officers in July 2020. Reports after the shooting show no indication that police dispatchers attempted to connect officers on the scene with available behavioral health resources.
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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