Statement from the House and Senate Baltimore City Delegations on the case of Freddie Gray

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

CONTACT

Curt Anderson

(410) 841-3255

BaltCity@house.state.md.us

PDF Statement: http://delmarywashington.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Baltimore-City-House-and-Senate-Delegation-Statement-on-Freddie-Gray.pdf

BALTIMORE, MD. (April 30, 2015) “The case of Freddie Gray has been a clarion call to action: for our City, our State and this entire nation.” We hear the voices of our constituents who say that they want their police to partner with them to prevent and solve crimes and keep our neighborhoods safe. Many residents, especially young people of this City, believe that the officers patrolling their communities are more anxious to arrest them than to know them and address them by name.

At the same time, we know that many of our law enforcement officers feel they, too, are under siege: expected to keep our streets safe in the face of intractable violence that destroys the very fabric of our communities.

This is a situation that has been festering for decades that undermines the humanity of both police officers and the citizens they serve.

We all are impatiently, but peacefully waiting to see justice served for Freddie Gray. We are confident that the State’s Attorney will do her job and that the truth will prevail.

We agree that the status quo will not and cannot stand. Too often our City is seen as a place beyond hope. As your delegation, it is our responsibility to show our colleagues from across the State the strengths of our City and the importance of investing in our future. We have started this work by securing: $1 billion for new schools in Baltimore; passage of important criminal justice reform to expunge arrest records; a framework to allow every police department in the State to institute a body camera program; and a new program to invest in neighborhoods in Baltimore.

The path forward must be paved with the support, involvement and investment from community organizations, the business community, non-profit organizations and ordinary citizens across the State. Support from the State will be needed now more than ever to rebuild and strengthen the economic and social infrastructure of our communities. As your City Delegation, we stand with you as we fight for reforms in police accountability and civilian review and for more funding for our educational and recreational systems. For example we support action that would require Baltimore City to immediately begin a Pilot Program for body cameras, rather than waiting for the start date of the original bill.

Challenging days are ahead for the City we love, but the best days are also ahead. The tragic and preventable death of Freddie Gray must never dissuade us from believing in the bright future ahead for the City of Baltimore. As your representatives in Annapolis, we hear you and resolve to redouble our efforts to address these issues. We ask all Marylanders to join us as we work together toward a lasting and peaceful resolution and a strong future for the City.

 

Delegate Curt Anderson

Chair, Baltimore City House Delegation

 

Senator Catherine Pugh

Chair, Baltimore City Senate Delegation

 

BACKGROUND

This year, the Maryland General Assembly passed several important criminal justice reforms:

  • The creation of a legal environment for the use of body cameras and a Commission to study expanded use of body cameras by law enforcement across Maryland.
  • Legislation to move toward ending racial profiling by authorizing a model policy and data collection system concerning race-based traffic stops.
  • More extensive reporting of community policy in Baltimore City by requiring an annual report on diversity of the police force, as well as encounters with officers including, encounters resulting in civilian injuries and number of officers suspended (with and without pay).
  • Legislation requiring all local law enforcement to provide annual reports regarding each “officer-involved death” and “death in the line of duty.”
  • Reforms to the Baltimore City Civilian Review Board expanding the Board’s ability to hear complaints against other policing organizations operating in the City and to review complaints arising from a broadened definition of “harassment.”
  • Legislation to deal with the consequences of police misconduct, including an increase in the amount of money that can be paid to an injured party arising from a claim against local governments from $200,000 to $400,000 and up to $800,000 when there are multiple parties involved.

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