Baltimore News

Normal Meeting approves transferring management of Baltimore police from state to metropolis

General Assembly approves transferring control of Baltimore police from state to city

Print

Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Tyler Waldman, WBAL NewsRadio 1090 and FM 101.5

The Maryland General Assembly on Wednesday passed legislation that paves the way for returning control of the Baltimore Police Department to the city.

The legislation passed the House with overwhelming support and unopposed in the Senate. The handover of control to the city is contingent on city voters’ ratification of a charter amendment to facilitate the change.

Mayor Brandon Scott thanked the city delegation for working to ensure the bill’s passage.

“I am also delivering on another priority by establishing a Task Force with representatives from City government and the community to develop a five-year budget reduction plan for the Baltimore Police Department,” Scott said in a statement. “As my administration works tirelessly to reimagine policing in Baltimore, we must ensure that City resources are being used effectively and efficiently. The Task Force will be charged with identifying reductions that can be made responsibly over time while creating a blueprint that diverts appropriate service requests so officers can focus efforts on reducing violent crime.”

The General Assembly put city police under the state’s purview in 1853, after the Know-Nothing Party seized political power in the city. The federal government briefly took over the department during the Pratt Street Riots of 1861. It was not until 1976 that lawmakers empowered the mayor to hire and fire the commissioner. Though the city funds the department’s budget, the City Council is constrained from passing any laws directing the actions of the department or its commissioner.

In 2014, then-Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake vetoed a bill to mandate body cameras for city police in part because the city’s law department concluded it conflicted with the city’s powers under its charter and state law.

The department has been under a federal consent decree since 2017. A Department of Justice investigation carried out in the wake of Freddie Gray’s 2015 death found a pattern and practice of unconstitutional conduct by city police.

“Answering national calls for justice starts at home by fostering an environment of policing that is transparent and accountable,” Scott said. “Today, I am proud to say that Baltimore is moving in the right direction.”

The bill establishes an advisory board for the department’s handover. It would include Scott and representatives from city police, the General Assembly, the Fraternal Order of Police and the consent decree’s independent monitor, along with members of the community.

Article is invalid or is no longer published.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Close