Baltimore police leaders ask to fire officers facing charges
BALTIMORE (AP) — Police leaders in Baltimore asked Maryland lawmakers to change a state law to allow them to fire officers who have been charged with a crime.
The request was made in a letter to the state’s Commission to Restore Trust in Policing, The Baltimore Sun reported. It comes as the state’s House of Delegates police reform work group held a virtual public hearing Thursday about the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, a state law that grants police due process rights and shields them from needless investigations.
Some, including David Rocah, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, say the law makes it harder to discipline officers. “It’s long since past time for it to be repealed,” Rocah told lawmakers Thursday.
The change requested by the city leaders and Michael Harrison, Baltimore’s police commissioner, would allow police leaders to fire officers “in the days immediately following a criminal incident,” Kristin Blumer, the city’s chief solicitor, wrote in the letter.
Officials referred to misconduct cases where officers stayed in the police department due to the law, including one former police officer who shot a suspect that had been subdued by other officers and remained with the police force for two more years.
Activists in Maryland and around the country have been calling for accountability in police departments amid the protests against racism and police brutality sparked by the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in Minnesota.
The city said they would like the legislature to give officers a way to petition for reinstatement if they are found innocent. The proposal also asks that police leaders be given authority to suspend officers without pay if they cannot be terminated for misdemeanors.
“We don’t want other families to go through what we went through,” LaToya Holley said during the work group meeting Thursday. Her brother, Anton Black, died in the hospital about two years ago after an altercation with a police officer in Greensboro, a town located about 75 miles (121 kilometers) southeast of Baltimore.