Maryland lawmakers pass landmark police reform package into law, overriding Gov. Hogan’s vetoes

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Pamela Wood, The Baltimore Sun
·2 min read
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Maryland lawmakers swiftly overrode vetoes from Gov. Larry Hogan to pass a landmark police reform package into law despite the governor’s opposition to key provisions.

Hogan, a Republican, contended that central provisions of the sweeping four-part Maryland Police Accountability Act went too far and treat police officers unfairly. He vetoed three bills Friday evening containing those sections.

By Saturday afternoon, the Democrat-controlled General Assembly had brushed aside the governor’s objections and overridden all of those vetoes.

The legislation passed over Hogan’s veto will overhaul the disciplinary process for officers accused of misconduct, allow public scrutiny of complaints and internal affairs files and create a new legal standard requiring that police use only “necessary” and “proportional” force. Officers who use excessive force will face additional criminal penalties, including up to 10 years in prison. Also, police will be limited on when they can obtain so-called “no-knock” warrants or raid homes at night.

Supporters described the legislation as the most far-reaching police reform in the state’s history, an advance that will begin to restore frayed community trust in law enforcement.

Democratic leaders in Annapolis declared changing how law enforcement in the state was carried out a priority following nationwide protests last summer over police brutality and after decades of demands from activists in Maryland.

The General Assembly overrode two other vetoes from Hogan on Saturday.

Lawmakers voted over his objection to abolish life without parole sentences for juveniles convicted in state court. The Juvenile Restoration Act, which also allows people convicted as children in adult court to seek reductions in their sentences after serving 20 years in prison and waives mandatory minimum sentences for juveniles convicted in adult courts, will become law after a supermajority in both chambers backed the bipartisan legislation.

The governor also attempted to block legislation that expands when contractors are required to pay prevailing wages on government-funded construction work. Lawmakers in both chambers likewise voted to override that veto.

This article will be updated.