Fight over Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights in Maryland

Lawmakers in Maryland are considering repealing a bill that has come to be the model for states across the country when it comes to police officers' rights. The union says it's about due process for officers, but supporters of getting rid of it say for too long it's prevented accountability.

LaToya Holley, whose brother Anton Black died in police custody after a foot chase in 2018, encouraged lawmakers Tuesday in a committee hearing to pass police reform measures. Both the repeal of what's known as the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights, or LEOBR, and a bill to make police discipline records open to public inspection are in early steps in the legislature.

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"Perhaps I should tell them about how Anton was placed in a hog-tied position while on an incline and how his 160-pound frame body was under the weight of more then 250 pounds," Holley testified.

Holley's brother died after police Tased and restrained the 19-year-old. Body camera video shows him running from officers in the small eastern shore town of Greensboro, before he is detained and his body goes limp.

Since Black's death, the police killing of George Floyd and the calls for racial justice in America, Maryland lawmakers have proposed getting rid of the LEOBR. Among other things, it gives officers up to five days to make a statement when they're investigated for wrongdoing.

"If a bus driver commits a crime, they've gotta speak, to make a statement quickly. They don't get five extra days," said Will Jawando, at-large Montgomery County council member.

Councilmembers Jawando, Evan Glass and Hans Riemer pushed a senate committee to support the repeal of the bill and another measure aimed at making officers' discipline records open to the public. The committee ultimately did not vote on the LEOBR repeal bill Thursday but is expected to take it back up Friday.

Maryland's police union argues the LEOBR is about due process for officers and says if it goes, so will good officers.

"If you could be unfairly fired by the end of the shift while the gentleman or lady is in custody or in jail and you could be fired by your police chief, you know you don't want police officers second-guessing themselves," said Maryland Fraternal Order of Police President Clyde Boatwright.