Maryland House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne A. Jones announced on Saturday the formation of a bipartisan work group of lawmakers who will review police reform and accountability.
“Policing in America is broken,” Jones, a Baltimore County Democrat, said in a statement. “While we have taken a number of positive steps in Maryland, we can’t be satisfied until every citizen has confidence in their police department.”
The work group will be chaired by Del. Vanessa Atterbeary, a Howard County Democrat. In the announcement, Jones and Atterbeary, who both are black, noted that they are mothers of sons.
“The events around the country this week have underscored that we cannot wait another day,” Atterbeary said. “We need structural reform ideas from the community and law enforcement to fix this problem in a collaborative way.”
The death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer pinned him to the ground with a knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes May 25, has brought widespread renewed attention to police-community relations and racial tensions around the nation.
Prosecutors in Minnesota on Friday announced charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter against Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck. He was fired, along with three other officers who were at the scene.
Areas the work group will explore include: how police misconduct is investigated, whether there should be statewide standards on police use of force, how body cameras are used, and ways to prosecute crimes committed by police.
The state legislature already has a Commission to Restore Trust in Policing, formed following the revelations of corrupt policing carried out by Baltimore’s Gun Trace Task Force. That commission is set to end its work in 2020.