UPDATE: Regaining Control

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about why Baltimore City’s police force was taken over by the state in 1860 (https://one-baltimore.org/2020/02/11/one-baltimore-36-losing-control/) and how and why advocates are fighting to get it back (https://one-baltimore.org/2020/02/17/one-baltimore-37-regaining-control/).

Well, on Monday, Senator Carter DID submit a bill for local control to the state legislature, SB 1057 (mgaleg.maryland.gov/mgawebsite/Legislation/Details/sb1057?ys=2020RS)! However, because the bill was introduced after the regular deadline, it must be cleared by the Senate’s Rules committee to get assigned to another committee for a full hearing. Rules has not yet set a date for when they will decide this. Bill Ferguson is the only city Senator on that committee, so anyone with an interest in this issue, especially people representing groups or who live in his district, should reach out to him ASAP:

H-107 State House
100 State Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401
410-841-3600
bill.ferguson@senate.state.md.us

Some talking points:
– Please allow SB1057, “Control of Police Department of Baltimore”, to leave the Rules Committee and proceed to a regular hearing
– Local police control is a major recommendation of the Community Oversight Task Force, which studied the issue for over a year and concluded that the reforms needed for Baltimore to comply with the DOJ’s Consent Decree could not move forward effectively without it
– Baltimore is the only jurisdiction in the state, and the only major city in the entire nation other than Kansas City, to not have direct control over its own police force
– You have said that you are concerned about potential costs from the loss of the state’s cap on tort liability; this issue deserves full discussion and consideration, and that’s why a hearing is needed
– Reform is the way to bring down our liability, not artificially keeping claimants from receiving awards that they could get if they suffered the same harms anywhere else in the state or nation
– You have said that changes to the City Charter are also needed and that is true, but that is no reason not to proceed with local control now; give us our driver’s license back — we will work at the same time on getting back our keys
– Even if you do not agree with the idea of local control for Baltimore City, your constituents still want this issue to receive an open hearing, so please allow that to happen

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