Two Baltimore Democrats are chairing a workgroup to examine proposals to improve police-community relationships and accountability in misconduct cases.
The Baltimore Sun reports Del. Curt Anderson and Sen. Catherine E. Pugh will co-chair the Workgroup on Public Safety, which will hold its first meeting Monday.
“This is by no means an exercise in beating up on the police,” Pugh told the paper. “For the most part, our police do their jobs.”
The panel’s formation was announced just days after city State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced charges would be filed against five Baltimore officers in connection with the death of Freddie Gray, which stemmed from injuries received while in custody.
While there were policing bills under consideration in the General Assembly session earlier this year, none had the support of law enforcement agencies.
The Daily Record (subscription) reports that the city is being sued for $10 million by the family of Trayvon Scott, who died of an asthma attack while in police custody in February.
The Sun notes that, as of last year, the city had paid out $6 million since 2011 to settle 102 lawsuits for police brutality and misconduct. The arrests cited in the suits resulted in serious injury and death. Gray’s death and the protests and unrest that followed occurred with a backdrop of similar police-involved deaths nationwide.
To that end, the panel may look to curtail the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights, a sure-to-be third rail for officers. Efforts to revise the law failed to move out of committee, the Sun notes. And a police union official said the union wants a say in how, if at all, it is changed.
“Clearly in the past we have been protectors of it because we thought it worked,” Frank B. Boston III, legislative counsel to the state Fraternal Order of Police, told the Sun. “Hopefully we will be used as a resource to help the legislature understand how [it] works from a practical point of view.”