A state delegate from Baltimore has proposed a law that would require the Baltimore Police Department to put up signs denoting certain “high crime” and “stop-and-frisk” zones in the city with signage.
Del. Frank M. Conaway, Jr., who has represented District 40 in the city since 2007, may be best remembered for the dozens of bizarre YouTube videos filmed in City Hall that he posted online and promptly deleted in 2014. (They can still be watched here.) The whole ordeal led him to resign his full-time job in the City Hall mailroom, but it didn’t keep him from getting re-elected to the General Assembly that year.
Conaway’s biggest fans may also know him for his diverse catalogue of books, which includes “Trapezium Giza Pyramid Artificial Black Hole Theory,” “Baptist Gnostic Christian Eubonic Kundalinion Spiritual Ki Do Hermeneutic Metaphysics: The Word: Hermeneutics,“ and “The 20 Pennies a Day Diet Plan.” He’s also known as the son of the late Baltimore Circuit Court Clerk Frank Conaway, Sr., who passed away in February 2015.
Del. Conaway is generating renewed buzz this year for his pre-filed proposal in Annapolis that would require the Baltimore police commissioner to put up signs in neighborhoods telling people they’re entering areas with high crime rates and zones where police will stop and frisk passersby.
The bill, HB 13, basically lays the exiting duties of the police commissioner, but adds a couple new stipulations on page three:
In any area designated by the Baltimore Police Department as a “High Crime Zone”, a “Stop and Frisk Zone”, or any similar name, the Police Commissioner shall post signs reasonably calculated to notify the public of the designation.
…The signs shall be placed intermittently around the perimeter of the designated area and shall notify the public of the existence and effects of the designation.
Conaway’s proposal would allow people to know any time they’re walking or driving into a so-called bad neighborhood. However, it would also carry the risk of putting symbolic red flags on those neighborhoods for as long as those signs are up, discouraging people from wanting to open businesses, buy property or even venture over there. Baltimore City resident Peter Cimbolic captured this concern on this apt tweet:
Perfect way to continue decades of disinvestment in Bmore's most distressed neighborhoods: Erect signs around perimeter of high-crime areas pic.twitter.com/VWAQK44GPi
— Pete’s tweets (@pete_cimbolic) January 8, 2017
The Department of Justice pointed out in its August 2016 findings report from its investigation of the Baltimore Police Department that officers had developed a pattern of conducting unconstitutional stop and seizures and referenced their use of stop and frisk policing. It’s unclear whether Conaway endorses the use of stop and frisk policing based on his bill.
The measure is set to be introduced on Wednesday in Annapolis. If lawmakers were to ultimately approve it and if Gov. Hogan were to sign it into law, the change in the police commissioner’s duties would take effect this coming October.
Del. Conaway’s office hasn’t returned a request for comment on his proposal. He and the rest of the state legislature are meeting today for the first day of the 2017 Maryland General Assembly session.
The Baltimore Police Department, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis and the ACLU of Maryland also haven’t returned requests for comment on the bill.
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