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Maryland lawmakers call on Gov. Larry Hogan to sign executive order on police reform

The Maryland House of Delegates issued a letter Tuesday urging Gov. Larry Hogan to sign an executive order requiring all state-controlled law enforcement agencies to follow best-practices training for use-of-force situations when interacting with the public.

Maryland House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones, joining in the letter by all 98 Democratic delegates, wrote that while the state has taken “some important” steps toward police reform, “we have not done enough to fix policing in Maryland."

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There are 18 law enforcement agencies under Hogan’s jurisdiction, including the city of Baltimore. Lawmakers are asking him to order those agencies to mandate that deadly force is used only to “stop an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officer” or a citizen.

They also would like Hogan to require all officers to report any instances of fellow officers using unreasonable to unnecessary force. And they are asking that department’s create an “early warning system" to identify officers prone to using more force than necessary and make sure they are retrained.

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Lawmakers also called on the governor to ban shooting at vehicles unless the vehicle is “clearly” being used as a deadly threat. Officers will also have to sign an affirmative written sanctity of life pledge to “respect every human life” and “act with compassion toward others," as required by the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission.

Lawmakers are also calling for the banning of chokeholds for any state law enforcement officer.

The request by lawmakers comes in light of national protests against police brutality after the deaths at the hands of police of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky.

Shareese Churchill, a press secretary in Hogan’s office, says some of the policies recommended by the House of Delegates have been implemented but the office is still looking for where more reforms can be made.

“While several of these policies are already implemented by our state police agencies, we will certainly give thoughtful consideration to the Speaker’s letter, as well as the conclusions and recommendations of the work group she has established to examine these serious issues,” Churchill said.

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