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Maryland planning stricter laws for police accountability


It is the duty of all police officers to protect citizens, but there have been occasions where certain officers of the law did not use their authority responsibly. Recently, Maryland citizens protested before a House of Delegates committee on behalf of people who lost their lives while interacting with law enforcement officers in Maryland.

The family members of these victims support proposed legislative reforms which aim to implement a more stringent review process and harsher punishment for law enforcement officers who abuse their power. They feel that recent allegations against law enforcement officers have not been properly investigated, thereby denying justice to innocent victims.

The state legislature in Maryland is mulling a slew of reforms to hold police officers more accountable for their actions. These reforms include amending the Law Enforcement Officer's Bill of Rights, ensuring stricter incident reviews by civilians and implementing the use of body cameras to record interactions between police officers and civilians.

One such legislative reform intends to allow civilians to be part of review boards which investigate alleged police misconduct. The bill will also grant these hearing boards the power to either approve or set disciplinary action. The bill will also eliminate the provision that allows police officers accused of misconduct 10 days before they can be interrogated, thereby giving them an opportunity to construct an alibi and criminal defense.

Other amendments are aimed at increasing the punishment for misconduct for police officers. If these amendments are implemented, any police officer committing misconduct that is punishable with imprisonment for more than a year will have to face a potential sentence of 10 years in prison. Also, the attorney general of the state will be obligated to prosecute all cases where a police officer has been alleged to commit a felony while on duty.

However, law enforcement officers expressed their own concerns over these proposed measures. They believe that if their actions are so closely monitored, then they will not be able to judiciously use their power when necessary. Also, the use of body cameras can lead to voyeurism and the possibility of embarrassing videos being posted on the Internet.

Source: TheDailyRecord.com, "Police accountability has its day in Annapolis," March 14, 2015

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