Yesterday afternoon, House Republicans held a press conference on HB 670, a radical bill that would dramatically shift the landscape of public safety here in Maryland. Here is the full press release:
“At a press conference this afternoon, House Republicans reaffirmed their support of law enforcement and called on members of the General Assembly to reject the radical police reform measure coming before the House for debate this evening. Law enforcement officers from around the state attended the press conference, including FOP President Clyde Boatwright.
“We are here today because we support Maryland’s law enforcement community and the selfless and far-too-often unheralded work they do keeping our families and our communities safe”, said House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga. “The debate over police reform is an important one, but the debate in the House of Delegates has largely been devoid of facts and basic reason.”
House Bill 670 is being debated in the House of Delegates later this afternoon. This radical legislation strips police officers of their legal protections and robs them of their ability to keep Maryland safe.
“If you listen to those who are pushing this bill, you would assume that police officers are the ones actually committing the majority of crimes in our state, that police are the ones responsible for the high rates of violent crime and murders in Maryland”, said Szeliga. “This is nonsense. Law enforcement, just like any group of people, will have bad actors, and bad actors need to be dealt with.”
Joining the Caucus today was Clyde Boatwright, President of the Maryland Fraternal Order of Police.
“We represent thousands of moms and dads, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters — Black, white, Asian Latino – who have a deep commitment to their communities and who have chosen to serve as law enforcement officers”, said Boatwright. “The overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers wake up every single day with a deep desire and commitment to serve their neighbors, responding to more than four million 911 calls per year. No one wants to protect a bad cop and we support police reform where it is necessary.”
“But the legislation being considered today threatens good officers working to keep our communities safe”, Boatwright continued. “It threatens our livelihood and the livelihood of our families. Our members are professionals. They serve because they have a deep commitment to our communities and I suspect that they will wake up tomorrow regardless of what the Maryland General Assembly does to put on their uniform and go to work in service to our state. The legislation being considered today will make it harder for our officers to do the job, make it more difficult to recruit and train good officers, and ultimately make our communities less safe. Police are not the enemy, and we ask the Maryland General Assembly to work with us meaningful reforms to improve public safety, not turn their back on the men and women in uniform.”
“We all want responsible police officers that serve and protect our communities and keep our families safe”, said House Minority Leader Nic Kipke. “The problem is this bill, this so-called solution, before the House today does nothing to improve law enforcement in our state. In fact, it only makes the situation worse. If we want safer communities, why are we making it so hard, if not impossible, for police officers to do their jobs.”
“But this isn’t about producing logical results”, said Kipke. “This is about politics and right now the House Democrats are deciding to stand with a minority of activists than with their constituents and communities. Right now, far-left dangerous individuals are pushing a radical agenda in this capital. They are threatening members. Just recently, Senate President Ferguson had protestors show up at his home. The protestors shot off fireworks to frighten his family and intimidate him to submit to their demands. All Marylanders must reject this kind of chaos and far-left dangerous extremism.”
“I encourage our colleagues in the Majority Party to come to the center, ” said the Minority Leader. “Let’s focus on where we can agree and reject this dangerous extreme-left politics. We in the Republican Caucus are very proud to stand with the men and women in law enforcement, the vast majority of whom serve with integrity and honor. We stand with the majority of Marylanders who oppose efforts like this across race and party lines. The men and women of law enforcement put their lives on the line every day. They always have our back. They protect us in the very chamber where we debate policies. Our Caucus is committed that we will be a loud voice for them in the coming debate this afternoon, and I hope common sense will prevail.”
Extremists want to demoralize and defund the police. Public safety is the number one duty of government. Just as dirty cops give good cops a bad name, dirty politicians give good politicians a bad name. Recently in Maryland, we’ve seen the following politicians convicted of crimes: Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh, Senator Nathaniel Oaks, Delegate Cheryl Glenn, and Delegate Tawanna Gaines.
Their cases went to trial, where they were convicted and sentenced in a court of law. There were no changes made in Maryland ethics laws for elected officials because of their illegal behavior.
Of course, policing should be constantly improving and modernizing and making some reforms. However, we should not destroy the entire law enforcement institution because of a few bad actors. It was, after all, the Harford County Sheriff’s office that discovered and exposed the corrupt Gun Trace Task Force in Baltimore City. If HB670 passes, we will create a system where no one will want to become a police officer.