Public Unions

Maryland's Police Union Rejects "Any and All" Reforms

Post-Freddie Gray unrest, state task force offers modest proposals which are summarily rebuffed.

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A Maryland state government task force

Man it's hard just to live.
Flickr/Keith Allison

approved 22 recommendations meant to improve police-community relations, deemed vitally necessary following the unrest in Baltimore sparked by the death of Freddie Gray, who suffered a severed spine while in police custody. All of the proposed reforms were summarily rejected by the state's police union.

Erin Cox writes in the Baltimore Sun:

"At this point we remain opposed to any and all changes," said Frank Boston III, the lobbyist for the Maryland Fraternal Order of Police.

The bipartisan panel suggested three changes to the Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights, a state law known by its acronym, LEOBR, which affords protections to officers under investigation for misconduct.

The group suggested cutting in half the time officers can wait before speaking to investigators, from 10 days to five. Under the task force's proposal, victims of police brutality would have a year to file a complaint — four times longer than under current law — and be guaranteed an investigation. And in addition to opening all police trial boards to public scrutiny, the group proposed striking down a state law that prevents citizens from serving on those boards.

Separately, the task force recommended new whistle-blower protections for officers who help internal investigations or raise concerns about colleague's conduct.

These are modest reform proposals. Allowing an officer 5 days before he/she is required to speak to an investigator is still a plenty long time, and the current cap of 10 days is "unreasonable" according to Samuel Walker of the University of Nebraska, who analyzed the Baltimore PD's union contract in a report titled, "Impediments to Accountability." 

Walker writes:

It is completely unreasonable that the questioning of an officer who is involved in an incident requiring investigation by the department not be questioned for up to 10 days.

Additionally, it is unreasonable that a representative cannot be obtained very quickly after the incident under investigation. Indeed, in the folklore of contemporary policing there is a widespread joke that the police union representative arrives on the scene before an investigator from internal affairs does.

It is now a recognized "best practice" in policing that in the case of alleged misconduct – and particularly in officer-involved shootings and uses of force that involve injury to a member of the community- that it is essential for the officer to be questioned as soon as possible. (In cases where an officer is clearly distraught, as in an officer-involved shooting, it is appropriate to delay any questioning.)

Check out previous Reason coverage of police unions' aversion to any efforts at accountability, transparency or reform.

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25 responses to “Maryland's Police Union Rejects "Any and All" Reforms

  1. I bet that officer totally got away with molesting that Orioles mascot, too.

  2. A public union and it’s lobbyists. Working directly against the wishes of their bosses (taxpayers).

    1. It’s adorable that you don’t know you’re just a member of the revenue cattle.

    2. That’s the american way. The only way to stop this is the dissolve the police unions. Defund them and then they will no longer be in charge and we can begin holding violent extremist police accountable.

      1. This looks like a job for RICO.

  3. By the way, lest we think that passive voice is a unique marker in police unions, it aint. I have a good friend who has recently become a metro bus driver (he’s yet to surrender his libertarian card, whistle and decoder monocle) and he was recently witness to an incident. Another driver hit a Ups truck and when being questioned, he said “I hit the UPS truck.” Another experienced driver shouted, “wrong answer… ‘the vehicles contacted'”

    1. “Passive voice, may we be helped by you. Our only hope is placed in you.” — hordes of people in government and journalism

  4. If this doesn’t end with the cop bill of rights in the land of Mary actually being strengthened, I’ll be surprised.

    1. Cripes, I thought I was cynical!

  5. I think what the people of Maryland need to do, especially blacks in the inner city, is to vote Democrat even harder and with more feeling next time. No, voting for the same Democrats endorsed and financed by the same police unions wouldn’t seem to change much, but inner city blacks need to band together as a community and vote Democrat anyway.

    Otherwise the police might abuse them.

    1. Maryland’s real motto is “Let’s keep doing what has consistently failed to work.”

      1. So goes Maryland, so goes America.

  6. Some animals are more equal than others and the pigs are the most equal of all. Now shut the fuck up or they’ll give you the Freddie Ride to jail.

  7. The group suggested cutting in half the time officers can wait before speaking to investigators, from 10 days to five. Under the task force’s proposal, victims of police brutality would have a year to file a complaint ? four times longer than under current law ? and be guaranteed an investigation. And in addition to opening all police trial boards to public scrutiny, the group proposed striking down a state law that prevents citizens from serving on those boards.

    None of these proposals will have the slightest effect on the outcomes of police brutality cases. And still the BPD refuses to enact them to even give the appearance of wanting to improve relations with the populace.

    1. “Why should we change? THEY’RE the guys who suck!”

    2. Passive voice doesn’t write itself.

      But seriously, my chief complaint with pubsec unions, particularly in the realm of the police is that it has elevated (turned? shifted?) their relationship with society at large into an employee/employer dispute. Lost is the concept of Justice being protected in service to the community.

      If an officer shoots me while I’m handcuffed and prone on the pavement, this is not a employee/employer dispute.

    3. Take away the police unions funding and remove there power.

  8. “It is completely unreasonable that the questioning of an officer who is involved in an incident requiring investigation by the department not be questioned for up to 10 days.”

    Sheesh, Walker, that sentence is completely unreasonable.

  9. You know, in many areas of government, there are entire bureaucracies devoted to writing new rules and regulations for government employees to prevent accidents, fraud, abuse, etc. They’re completely willing to come up with any new rule which may have prevented the last accident, or the last publicly discovered embarrassing waste event, etc, to the point that many government employees that actually try to work complain that they can barely do their government jobs because they’re so busy satisfying compliance.

    It’s great that sometimes, some public unions get a huge victory in that respect, at the expense of the actual taxpayers.

    Heroes.

  10. I’m really disappointed that breaking unions has gone out of style. De-certify them, tear up the contract, offer to rehire anyone currently working at their old salary, but minus the union.

  11. Look, I knew a cop who had only five days before he was questioned, and that wasn’t enough time to line up all his supporting witnesses, if you know what I mean. So during the interrogation, he gave some answers which were contradicted by other evidence. He almost got in trouble for that.

  12. I’m shocked, SHOCKED I tell you that a public sector union would refuse reforms that might introduce even a slight quanta of accountability into the system. /sarc

  13. Now we know who is in charge police unions and the FOP nationwide operate like the mafia except they are paid by taxpayers. The very taxpayers they are free to kill and brutalize and will fight any changes to there power structure.
    There is deeply entrenched generational racism, sexism, intolerance, hypocrisy and
    bulling in police departments nationwide. Police unions are devoted to self preservation and will stop at nothing to continue there criminal enterprises.
    The police unions and FOP have contracts that grant officers “special privileges” that protect officers from accountability and transparency. No one is forced to be a police officer but what job allows you to kill with no consequences. Taxpayers are stuck paying out massive amounts in damages from police misconduct along with continuing to pay officers salaries and benefits. Win Win!

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