Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed parts of a widely-passed police reform package Friday, pitting himself against Democratic state lawmakers who vowed to pass the proposed legislation regardless of his opposition.
In his veto message, Hogan, a Republican, said the legislation would “undermine the goal that I believe we share of building transparent, accountable, and effective law enforcement institutions” and would “erode police morale, community relationships, and public confidence.”
“They will result in great damage to police recruitment and retention, posing significant risks to public safety throughout our state,” he wrote. “Under these circumstances, I have no choice but to uphold my primary responsibility to keep Marylanders safe — especially those that live in vulnerable communities most impacted by violent crime — and veto these bills.”
The Democratic-controlled General Assembly passed the package — the Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 — this week despite opposition from law enforcement unions and nearly all Republican members, The Baltimore Sun reported.
The proposal came amid calls for police reform and greater police accountability and transparency. Senate President Bill Ferguson said his chamber would vote to override Hogan’s veto on Saturday.
“Tomorrow, the Senate will take the necessary action to ensure that we can have safer communities and fairer policing throughout our state,” he said.
State lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn for a 90-day session at midnight Monday.
The proposals would put limits on “no-knock” warrant searches and allow the public to obtain complaints and disciplinary records against officers, which are currently confidential. Under the bill, police could only use no-knock warrants between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., except in an emergency.
It would also establish new standards for use of force and would create new penalties for cases of excessive force, which would be punishable by up to 10 years in prison in the event an officer is convicted of causing serious injury or death.
The last part of the package vetoed by Hogan would repeal the Maryland Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, which critics say is a barrier to officer discipline and accountability.
Two measures approved by Hogan will go into effect without his signature.
One of them would create a unit in the attorney general’s office to investigate police-involved deaths and prohibit law enforcement from buying surplus military equipment. The other would enable Baltimore voters to decide whether the state’s largest city should take full control of the police department from the state.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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