Lawmakers need to take a hard look at the problem of officer misconduct.
At the end of a year in which allegations of police brutality have dominated headlines across the country, Maryland can no longer ignore the need for reform. Last week, Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake endorsed a series of policy changes to hold misbehaving officers more accountable, and a legislative work group in Annapolis is considering several measures aimed at restoring trust between police and the communities they serve. This is a complex problem that won’t be solved quickly or easily. But we are heartened by the fact that officials in Maryland finally appear ready to give the issue the serious consideration it deserves.
In the wake of The Sun’s “Undue Force” investigation into the millions Baltimore has paid in settlements and judgments of police brutality cases, Ms. Rawlings-Blake backed a series of bills in the General Assembly that would have made it easier for police chiefs and sheriffs to discipline misbehaving officers. But months before Freddie Gray put Baltimore police in the national spotlight, that legislation went nowhere after the state’s local chiefs — including former city police commissioner Anthony Batts — declined to support it. Since then, however, a nationwide string of high-profile cases involving officer misconduct and excessive use of force has prompted a change of heart among Maryland’s police leaders, who are now actively taking the lead in proposing reforms.
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