Demand greater transparency in police misconduct investigations

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Demand greater transparency in police misconduct investigations!

Maryland ranks among the least transparent states with regards to police misconduct complaints. A large reason for that is Maryland’s current Public Information Act (MPIA).

Police on the Eastern Shore killed Anton Black, a 19-year-old Black teenager, and his family still hasn’t been able to find out the details of the officers’ investigations. That’s unacceptable.

Currently, if a Marylander files a complaint of police misconduct, they can’t find out how the department investigated the complaint. The problem is that the complaint is considered a “personnel record” under Maryland’s Public Information Act, and personnel records may never be disclosed.

The public should know how police misconduct is investigated, including whether body camera footage is reviewed and witnesses are being contacted, especially when police departments do not punish wrongdoing.

Changing this part of the MPIA is essential to make policing more transparent and ensure that Black and Brown Marylanders are protected.

Making policing transparent is one of five demands of the Maryland Coalition for Justice and Police Accountability, a large, diverse statewide coalition of more than 90 organizations working to reimagine policing in Maryland.

Send a message to your legislators to demand they amend the Senate version of Anton’s Law (SB 178) on the House police reform package bill (HB 670) during Maryland's 2021 General Assembly session.

Please take action now.

Message Recipients:
Maryland State Delegates

Pass Anton's Law (HB 120 / SB 178). Police misconduct investigations must be transparent. Action alert via Maryland Coalition for Justice and Police Accountability).
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Your Message
Use the form to send a message to your legislator.
Dear Maryland Delegates,

The public must know how police misconduct is investigated, especially when police departments do not punish wrongdoing. Under the current Maryland Public Information Act, investigations of police misconduct can never be released. This is unacceptable.

As a Maryland resident I urge you to amend the MPIA to ensure that Marylanders who file complaints of police abuse can find out how their complaints are handled. When a complaint is filed against the police, I deserve to know how it was investigated and that it was investigated thoroughly.

The Maryland Senate passed a strong bill that would allow the complaint file to be removed from the MPIA’s personnel record category, so that a police department could disclose them in appropriate situations.

Our communities deserve transparency when complaints are unsustained because police departments often conduct slow, weak, or biased investigations and thereby find abusive officers innocent of wrongdoing.

Police cannot police themselves. Only when law enforcement agencies show the evidence, or lack of evidence, that justifies their decisions about complaints can we have the transparency and accountability needed to help Maryland families heal from police abuse.

I urge you to amend SB 178 Anton’s Law onto HB 670 so that the Maryland General Assembly can pass out the strongest bill to create more transparency in policing.

Sincerely,

[First Name] [Last Name]