Maryland is now the first state in the nation to get rid of a set of rules that gave police protection because of the nature of their job.
The changes will start to go into effect later this year against the wishes of many police unions and the governor.
As thousands of protesters marched in 2020, a broader change was on the horizon.
Advocates who’d called for states to get rid of laws that protected police officers believed George Floyd’s death in police custody would finally get lawmakers on board.
“The social unrest definitely put pressure on major political figures to make substantial changes in the arena of police accountability,” Dayvon Love, Director of Public Policy for Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, said.
This year, Maryland became the first state to repeal the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights.
It had protections for police because of the high-pressure nature of their jobs and split-second decisions they make.
After making that move, lawmakers then passed measures that would give regular citizens a seat at the table to review officer misconduct cases, and even recommend charges against officers.
“The LEOBR allowed for the police to police themselves, and so a big part of the importance of repealing the LEOBR is to make it so that the police don’t just get to police themselves.”
But members of law enforcement believe stripping the protection officers have is a mistake.
“I think that’s the problem when you have people who don’t understand what the men and women, haven’t walked a mile in their shoes, so to speak,” Harford County Sheriff Jeff Gahler said.
Sheriff Gahler also said he is concerned fewer people will choose the career.
“We are going to see fewer men and women choosing law enforcement as a future career,” he said. “We are going to see police officers getting out of the profession.”
Gov. Larry Hogan said the new measures would “erode police morale.”
Maryland was the first to pass the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights in 1974. It’s now the first to repeal.
The replacement bills include measures that would limit no-knock warrants, and if an officer is convicted of hurting or killing someone while using excessive force, they would face 10 years in prison.