Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Senator Will Smith
Miller Senate Office Building, Room 2E
6 Bladen St.
Annapolis, MD 21401
Greetings Chairman Smith,
We hope this finds you well. We appreciate your willingness to move on the issue of police brutality with deliberate action. Over the past several years LBS and many other organizations have been advocating on the issue of police accountability in order to address the problem of police brutality. We are sure that you are familiar with LBS’ criticism of the Democratic Party leadership in the legislature and how it has mastered the tactic of advancing symbolic gestures toward addressing institutional racism, instead of policies that confront directly the system of white supremacy that is embedded in every arena of civil society. I mention this because in 2016 LBS testified against the leadership police reform bill precisely because it was deploying the very tactic that I previously described. The changes that were made in that piece of legislation were status quo maintaining measures that did not facilitate a shift of power over law enforcement into the hands of the community.
Given the current moment, where conversation about racial injustice are more present in mainstream political conversations, LBS would like to offer you and your office language for two particular legislative aspects of police accountability that provide mechanisms for community oversight and control over law enforcement. I am referring to the Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights and the Maryland Public Information Act. These two areas of legislative action are key to shifting power over law enforcement into the hands of the community.
We want to offer you the crux of our legislative advocacy for the upcoming session to ensure that we do not get the symbolic legislative gestures of the past. Below are the descriptions of our legislative positions on LEOBR and MPIA. We hope you accept these positions as your own. Anything less would be maintenance of the status quo.
Maryland Public Information Act: We advocate that the records of internal affairs investigations of police officers are subject to the category of the PIA that makes these records discretionary disclosures, which if withheld upon request, require a stated justification for why keeping the requested information sealed are in the public interest. In other words, we want to have access to all of the investigatory records on police officers so that we can more effectively root out corruption.
Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights: We advocate for a full repeal of the LEOBR. The laws that protect other public sector employees should be sufficient for police officers.
Director of Public Policy
Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle