Lawmakers in Maryland enacted a slate of police reform measures on Saturday by overriding Republican Gov. Larry Hogan's veto of the bills, bringing changes to the state that include limits to no-knock warrants, body camera requirements and a repeal of the state's police Bill of Rights.
The Democratic speaker of Maryland's House of Delegates, Adrienne Jones, said that as a result of the state's Democratic-controlled General Assembly overriding Hogan's veto of three police reform bills, "Maryland is leading the country in transforming our broken policing system."
"Now, for the first time in our nation's history, the rights of officers will not be held above the rights of individuals, and policing in Maryland will be transparent and citizen-centered," she wrote in a Facebook post.
But in issuing his vetoes on Friday, Hogan, a moderate Republican, argued that "the original intent of these bills appears to have been overtaken by political agendas that do not serve the public safety interest of the citizens of Maryland."
"These bills would undermine the goal that I believe we share of building transparent, accountable and effective law enforcement institutions and instead further erode police morale, community relationships, and public confidence," he wrote in a letter to Jones and Bill Ferguson, the Democratic president of the state Senate.
The reforms come as Democratic lawmakers in Congress and at the state level push for changes to policing in the US after widespread demonstrations broke out last year following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans at the hands of officers. The General Assembly took action as the trial was underway for Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis officer charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd last May.
One of the new Maryland laws requires the use of body cameras by each police officer across the state "who regularly interacts with members of the public" by July 2025. That provision also requires "each law enforcement agency to establish a certain system to identify police officers who are at risk of using excessive force and to provide appropriate responses to reduce the risks."
Another reform restricts the use of no-knock warrants, which authorize entry without notice, by limiting when such a warrant can be executed and "requiring that an application for a certain no-knock search warrant be approved in writing by a police supervisor and the state's attorney," among other things.
This type of warrant has become a key target among police reform advocates following the death of Taylor, a Louisville EMT who was killed by police in March of 2020 after they executed a no-knock warrant.
The other new law repeals Maryland's police Bill of Rights, which gave some protections to officers facing investigations into misconduct. The document allowed disciplinary actions taken by a police chief to be appealed to a county board.
In its place, the new law requires every county in the state to have a police accountability board that will accept complaints of officer misconduct by members of the public. The measure also allows civilians to have a seat on a commission that has the power to "review the findings of a law enforcement agency's investigation" into officer misconduct and recommend disciplinary action against an officer.
Most of the new reforms are set to take effect later this year.