Dr. Margaret Flowers today announced her support for substantial reforms of policing at the local and national levels.
Flowers said, "The brutality and killings committed by police and correctional officers that disproportionately impact people of color are a public health emergency that must be addressed urgently. This requires mechanisms that increase police accountability to the communities they are employed to serve and protect."
The US Senate candidate expressed support House Bill 760, which will be heard in the Maryland General Assembly on Tuesday, February 23, 2016. HB 760 incorporates the demands of residents of Baltimore who have been advocating for changes to the Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights, especially after the deaths of Tyrone West, Freddie Gray and many others impacted by police violence.
"The Law Enforcement Officers' Bills of Rights creates a set of special privileges that impede the community's ability to hold violent and abusive police officers accountable for their actions," said Flowers. "Police officers should have the same constitutional protections and access to due process and legal counsel as civilians, not more. So, I applaud the reforms of HB 760 but believe the Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights should be repealed."
Maryland was the first state to create a Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights in 1972. The Fraternal Order of Police urged passage of the law to shield police from a public that was calling for greater police accountability. Thirteen other states followed suit.
"It’s time for Maryland to correct this injustice by requiring officers to be treated the same as any other person under investigation," said Flowers. "If the Constitution provides sufficient protection for civilians, it also provides sufficient due process for police."
Flowers supports Maryland House Bill 760 and rejects House Bill 1016, which includes only minor changes "without addressing the fundamental question of civilian participation in the disciplinary and administrative aspects of law enforcement," according to the grassroots think tank Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle (LBS).
Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle is encouraging supporters to join them in Annapolis on Tuesday at the hearing on House Bill 760.
A federal Law Enforcement Officer’s Procedural Bill of Rights Act has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Dr. Flowers will work in the US Senate for federal reforms to hold law enforcement accountable to the communities they are sworn to serve.
Dr. Flowers calls for state and federal reforms to policing practices focused on increasing community control and access to police policy, including:
-Creating elected all-civilian police review boards and empowering review boards by granting them authority to remove violent officers from communities and recommend prosecution to grand juries, as well as giving access to police files and funding to perform independent investigations of police misconduct;
-Deprioritizing drug offenses, ending the failed war on drugs and treating drug addiction as a public health issue;
-Deprioritizing nuisance crimes and redirecting police resources to preventing violent and property crime;
-Providing support for non-profit organizations that teach and provide de-escalation, mediation, and other conflict resolution methods, allowing police resources to be focused on violent and property crime; and
-Demilitarizing the police and restricting the use of SWAT teams to crises that are high-intensity such as active armed hostage situations.
Dr. Flowers is seeking the Green Party's nomination for U.S. Senate. Voting in the the party's primary election begins in April and concludes on May 1.