Maryland becomes first state to repeal police Bill of Rights, overriding Hogan veto

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Maryland’s Democrat-controlled legislature on Saturday moved to pass a sweeping police reform package that repealed the state’s police Bill of Rights, becoming the first state in the nation to do so and overriding Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s vetoes in the process.

The state’s police Bill of Rights covered due process for officers accused of misconduct. Advocates for repeal have called it “one of the most extreme in the nation.” The new law will also give more oversight power to civilians.

Another one of the bills Hogan vetoed will require “certain” no-knock warrants to be approved by both a supervisor and the State's Attorney and be between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., barring “exigent circumstances.”

One of the new laws will also require officers to use force only if it is “necessary and proportional.”

The move, a win for police reform advocates, comes amid a national reckoning with policing after the death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer last year. Many states have considered police reform in wake of Floyd's death.

“Maryland is leading the country in transforming our broken policing system,” Maryland House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne Jones, a Democrat, wrote in a tweet Saturday. “Now, for the first time in our nation's history, the rights of officers will not be held above the rights of individuals, and policing in Maryland will be transparent and citizen-centered.”

Maryland first instituted its Bill of Rights in 1974 and about 20 states have since adopted similar measures. Hogan said he had to veto the bills to “keep Marylanders safe.”

“These bills would undermine the goal that I believe we share of building transparent, accountable, and effective law enforcement institutions and instead further erode police morale, community relationships, and public confidence,” Hogan said in a statement. “They will result in great damage to police recruitment and retention, posing significant risks to public safety throughout our state.”

State Del. Vanessa Atterbeary, a Democrat, hit back at Hogan in a tweet Friday, saying he “doesn’t stand with Black & Brown people in the state.”

“He is telling Black Marylanders that systemic racism in policing doesn't exist here. SHAME ON HIM,” Atterbeary said. “He is telling my children & all other Black children in the state he does NOT care about their futures. SHAME ON HIM. SHAME ON HIM.”

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