The Dundalk Eagle

Salling among state sen­a­tors to call for de­lay on po­lice re­form hear­ings

- By THE MARY­LAND SE­NATE Repub­li­can Cau­cus Crime · U.S. News · Society · Politics · Baltimore · United States Senate · Republican Party (United States) · Democratic Party (United States) · Maryland · Baltimore County · Baltimore · Larry Hogan · Congress of the United States · Maryland House of Delegates · Annapolis · Howard County · University of Maryland Baltimore County · Maryland General Assembly

We are writ­ing to voice our se­ri­ous con­cerns about the “bill hear­ings” sched­uled this week be­fore the Ju­di­cial Pro­ceed­ings Com­mit­tee.

It is shock­ing that with more than 50 peo­ple shot in two weeks in Bal­ti­more, 240 in­di­vid­u­als shot and killed in Bal­ti­more this year, in­clud­ing three-year-old Shaniya Gil­more and her preg­nant mother, JPR would hold hear­ings on a suite of 15 bills that would cer­tainly re­sult in less polic­ing. It is equally trou­bling that, given the in­cred­i­ble and un­ac­cept­able car­nage in Bal­ti­more, we would ex­clude leg­is­la­tion mod­eled after Gov­er­nor Ho­gan’s anti-crime package, which the Se­nate passed 43-4 last ses­sion, from be­ing heard at the same time. It

is im­per­a­tive that we move sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion quickly to keep peo­ple safe from ris­ing crime.

We ask that the Ju­di­cial Pro­ceed­ings Com­mit­tee can­cel what is re­ally noth­ing more than an anti-po­lice po­lit­i­cal rally and in­stead hold hear­ings on a po­ten­tial anti-crime package that will save lives in our state by keep­ing re­peat vi­o­lent of­fend­ers who use guns off the street and in prison.

In 2015-16, after the death of Fred­die Gray and the Bal­ti­more Riots, the Gen­eral Assem­bly put to­gether a

bi­par­ti­san po­lice re­form work­group where Repub­li­cans and Democrats came to­gether, and passed, al­most unan­i­mously, the Po­lice Re­form and Ac­count­abil­ity Act. It should be noted that this process in­volved a se­ries of public hear­ings to de­ter­mine the prob­lem and pro­pose solutions. We did not ini­ti­ate the hear­ings with a group of bills cre­ated by ide­o­log­i­cally one-sided ad­vo­cacy groups.

JPR has a strong tra­di­tion of com­ing to­gether on tough is­sues on be­half of all Mary­lan­ders to find mean­ing­ful solutions. Po­lice Re­form and the Jus­tice Rein­vest­ment Act both passed with nearly unan­i­mous votes as have other bills that dealt with crime and race and that in­spired strong opin­ions on the po­lit­i­cal right and left.

This is because the JPR mem­bers have worked to­gether in a bi­par­ti­san fash­ion to care­fully craft leg­is­la­tion to ap­pro­pri­ately deal with th­ese tough prob­lems. Even the Mary­land House of Del­e­gates, which is a more par­ti­san and less de­lib­er­a­tive body than the Se­nate, has put to­gether a bi-par­ti­san task force this sum­mer to look at po­lice-re­lated is­sues.

This is all in stark con­trast with JPR’s planned three days of hear­ings on 15 unam­bigu­ously anti-po­lice bills in­tro­duced by three Demo­crat mem­bers of the com­mit­tee. It should be noted that Repub­li­cans were not even in­vited to in­tro­duce leg­is­la­tion. Per­haps even worse, the hear­ings do not in­clude any sched­uled time for law en­force­ment of­fi­cials to brief mem­bers and the public on our state’s cur­rent train­ing poli­cies on use of force

and how they play out prac­ti­cally as well as on the views of our law en­force­ment pro­fes­sion­als on po­ten­tial op­por­tu­ni­ties for im­prove­ment.

Sadly, the draft leg­is­la­tion in front of the JPR com­mit­tee is largely a rein­tro­duc­tion of far-left, anti-po­lice bills that have been float­ing around An­napo­lis for years. Th­ese pro­pos­als have been re­peat­edly re­jected because they would fur­ther de­mor­al­ize our po­lice and strip them of their due process rights. Thus, it would ap­pear that this hear­ing is sim­ply a planned and con­certed ef­fort to ex­cite par­ti­san, po­lit­i­cal ac­tivists be­fore an up­com­ing elec­tion.

While we have seen na­tional sto­ries of po­lice mis­con­duct, such in­ci­dents are quite rare in Mary­land. In fact, we have seen far more ex­am­ples of po­lice be­ing as­saulted and killed in the line of duty. For ex­am­ple: a sus­pected

DUI of­fender drag­ging a state trooper 2,000 feet down the high­way in Howard County; a ju­ve­nile of­fender run­ning over an of­fi­cer in Bal­ti­more County, and Bal­ti­more City po­lice of­fi­cers be­ing punched and kicked.

While Bal­ti­more City is try­ing to deal with all this blood­shed, the City is still hun­dreds of po­lice of­fi­cers un­der­staffed. One has to won­der how Bal­ti­more and other com­mu­ni­ties will ever be able to fill their back­log in po­lice hir­ing if all of th­ese anti-po­lice bills pass. Why would any­one want to join the po­lice force when it ap­pears that the Mary­land Gen­eral Assem­bly not only re­fuses to sup­port the po­lice, but is pass­ing bills that would sub­ject them to up to 10 years in prison as well as un­lim­ited per­sonal li­a­bil­ity for their split-sec­ond

de­ci­sions that, with 20-20 hind­sight, are found by un­trained peo­ple to have been wrong.

To start this process, months be­fore ses­sion, with 15 highly par­ti­san, anti-po­lice bills is an af­front to not just the mi­nor­ity party but also to the long­stand­ing tra­di­tion of col­le­gial­ity in the Mary­land Se­nate.

Fur­ther­more, we ob­ject to cap­ping the num­ber of peo­ple from the public who will be able to tes­tify, and of course there is a strong like­li­hood that mem­bers of the public will have no knowl­edge of next week’s hear­ings un­til after they have con­cluded, inas­much as the hear­ings are be­ing held at a time of the year when hear­ings are never held. Real solutions re­quire in­put from all stake­hold­ers, not just a se­lect group of par­ti­san ad­vo­cates.

While it is not yet clear what process will be fol­lowed next week (as we have been shut out of the plan­ning process), we would also ob­ject to any at­tempt to char­ac­ter­ize th­ese three days as “public hear­ings” as that term is used in the Se­nate Rules. Even if events planned for next week pro­ceed, th­ese pro­posed bills should still be in­tro­duced as any other bills at the start of the 2021 ses­sion, as­signed to an ap­pro­pri­ate com­mit­tee, and public hear­ings held on each bill in the or­di­nary course, as with any other bill in­tro­duced for the 2021 ses­sion.

In sum­mary, we re­quest that the hear­ings sched­uled on th­ese 15 bills be can­celled and, as the Mary­land Se­nate has done in the past, that hear­ings be sched­uled on the prob­lems to be ad­dressed, that public in­put be re­quested on ap­pro­pri­ate solutions, and that a con­sen­sus then be de­vel­oped on leg­isla­tive solutions.

Fi­nally, if we are hold­ing emer­gency hear­ings, we should also be hold­ing hear­ings on anti-crime leg­is­la­tion like Gov­er­nor Larry Ho­gan’s bills which tar­get re­peat vi­o­lent of­fend­ers. Clearly there is a cri­sis of vi­o­lence in our streets that must be ad­dressed. Both Democrats and Repub­li­cans should be able to in­tro­duce bills on th­ese is­sues and not just three se­lect mem­bers of the ma­jor­ity party.

Let’s not turn the Mary­land Se­nate into a “Capi­tol Hill-style” show with par­ti­san hear­ings. We can and should do bet­ter.

Note: This let­ter was signed by 15 Mary­land Se­nate Repub­li­cans, in­clud­ing Sen. Johnny Ray Salling, R-6.

 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA