News from Annapolis
Delegate Trent Kittleman - District 9A
Jan. 18, 2021

  • Workgroup on Police Accountability recommends sweeping reforms
  • Education: Part I -- Pandemic Effect Takes its toll on students
  • District 9-A: Howard Delegation Meeting
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A word to my readers
The General Assembly is once again in session . . . well, almost in session. The House of Delegates will be having bill hearings starting tomorrow, but will not convene session until early February.

This year will be a unique experience for all of us, but I will try my best to keep you updated on what's happening in Annapolis for the next 90 days. In addition, each edition of the newsletter will have a section on Education. Whether you have children or grandchildren in school at this time, education consumes a huge portion of our tax dollars and performs one of the most important obligations of state and local government.

Maryland has to do better.
House Workgroup on Police Accountability Recommends Sweeping Reforms
In June 2020, 13-member House Leadership convened the Work Group to Address Police Reform and Accountability in Maryland. The Work Group completed its work and issued its report in December 2020. The Recommendations in the Report are listed below,

Although the Report offers "12" recommendations, the actual number of requirements is much larger; the second recommendation, for example, includes 18 separate provisions.

A number of the recommendations are likely to be problematic. The most controversial provisions will most likely be (1) eliminating the Officers Bill of Rights and (2) prohibiting collective bargaining of disciplinary actions.

Also of concern are provisions that require a subjective determination, such as the following:
  • "An officer may only use deadly force to stop an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or another person." Who makes the determination as to whether such force was appropriately necessary?
  • An officer has "a duty to intervene for those police officers who see another officer using force beyond what is objectively reasonable under the circumstances." Who decides what is "objectively reasonable."
  • Policy must require that "officers may use the force that is objectively reasonable and appears to be necessary under the circumstances in response to the threat or resistance by a subject." Once again, who makes that determination.
In most cases, the decision as to whether an officer's actions were reasonable at the time will be made well after the actual incident has occurred and will be made by people who were not at the scene.
List of Recommendations

1.Require all police departments to utilize body cameras by January 1, 2025.
3.Require an independent investigation of officer-involved shootings and other actions that result in the death of an individual or cause serious bodily injury. 
4.Prohibit collective bargaining of disciplinary actions (effective after any currently effective collective bargaining agreement expires).
5.Require mental health screenings and assessments by a licensed mental health professional before a police officer is hired; Require periodic mental health assessment by a psychologist or psychiatrist; Establish that prior marijuana use is not a disqualifier to being hired as a police officer.
6.Make the Baltimore City Police Department an agency and instrumentality of Baltimore City instead of the State.
7.Require a study to determine whether certain types of calls for service should be diverted to a person or entity other than the police.
8.Require a periodic physical agility assessment as determined by MPTSC.
9.Establish free tuition at a University System of Maryland institution if majoring in criminology or criminal justice but must stay a sworn police officer for five years or repay the money.
10.Require MPTSC to create an implicit bias test and training, require all police departments to utilize the test in the hiring process, and require current officers to complete implicit bias testing and training.
11.Repeal LEOBR ( Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights.)
12.Rules of Accountability for police departments:
  • Must include civilian oversight on any trial board – at least one-third of trial board should be composed of civilians with voting power. 
  • Must have an open and transparent process.
  • Officers convicted of a misdemeanor or who received a probation before judgment do not receive a trial board hearing. The chief decides punishment in this instance. 
  • Must have an early warning system. An early warning system is a data-based police management tool designed to identify officers whose behavior is problematic, who received a specific number of police complaints, or who violated the use-of-force statute a specific number of times. The system provides a form of intervention to correct that behavior. MPTSC must develop guidelines for such a system. All officers flagged by the early warning system must undergo retraining.
  • Each county must have a citizen complaint oversight board.
Recommendation # 2:
Establish a statewide use-of-force statute requiring:
  1. Require a duty to intervene for those police officers who see another officer using force beyond what is objectively reasonable under the circumstances.
  2. Require each department’s policy to state that officers may use the force that is objectively reasonable and appears to be necessary under the circumstances in response to the threat or resistance by a subject. 
  3. Require departments to include de-escalation in written policy. When time, circumstances, and safety permit, officers should take steps to gain compliance and deescalate conflict without using physical force. Examples include the use of advisements, warnings, and persuasion and attempts to slow down or stabilize the situation so that more time, options, and resources are available. Officers should consider whether a subject’s lack of compliance is a deliberate attempt to resist or is caused by an inability to comply. 
  4. Require officers to render basic first aid to subjects injured as a result of police action and promptly request medical assistance. 
  5. Require supervisors to respond to the scene of any incident during which an officer used physical force and where actual injury occurs. Supervisors should gather and review all known video recordings of an incident involving the use-of-force.
  6. Require documentation of incidents involving the use of force. 
  7. Require written policies of supervisory review of use-of-force reports, including review by commanders.
  8. Require officers to undergo and have access to training options that are less likely to cause death or serious injury and techniques to reduce the need to use force. Include the use of scenario-based training. 
  9. Require that every officer sign an affirmative written sanctity-of-life pledge to “respect every human life” and “act with compassion toward others.”
  10. Require all officers to sign a training completion document stating they understand Maryland’s use-of-force statute and must comply with the same.
  11. Require that an officer may only use deadly force to stop an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or another person. Serious injury is permanent impairment or disfigurement. Deadly force is any force that is likely to cause death or serious injury.
  12. Require all officers to undergo Less Lethal Force Training. Officers will be trained and equipped with less lethal weapons that may assist the officers in controlling resistant or assaultive behavior. “Less lethal weapons” are those weapons that are expected to create less risk of causing serious injury or death. 
  13. Prohibit shooting at moving vehicles unless the vehicle is being used as a deadly weapon toward the officer or another person and deadly force is the only reasonable means available to stop that threat.  
  14. Prohibit the use of chokeholds.
  15. Prohibit no-knock warrants unless the officer can demonstrate, in the application for a search warrant, that the life or safety of the executing officer or another person may be endangered. The judicial officer must find that exigent circumstances exist with respect to the latter. The applicant must demonstrate that a no-knock warrant is a last resort effort.
  16. Prohibit acquisition of surplus armored or weaponized vehicles.
  17. A police officer who violates the use-of-force statute is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment if the violation is knowing and willful and 5 years if the violation is reckless.
  18. Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission (MPTSC) is the agency responsible for holding police departments accountable for violations of the use-of-force statute.
  • MPTSC shall revoke the certification of an officer (1) found to be in violation of the use-of-force statute; (2) convicted of a felony; or (3) convicted of perjury or another misdemeanor that goes to truthfulness and veracity.
  • An officer cannot be hired if the officer was previously fired or resigned while being investigated for serious misconduct or use of excessive force.
  • MPTSC shall create a statewide database to track officer decertifications due to the improper use of force.
  • The Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services money will be withheld from a police department that violates the use-of-force statute
  • The membership of MPTSC shall be altered so that there are 10 civilians with voting rights, 4 legislators, and 10 representatives of the law enforcement community for a total of 24 members. Adequate training shall be given to the civilians as determined by MPTSC.
Kudos to Prince Georges County for its support of School Resource Officers
In an Open Letter Monica Goldson, Ed.D., Chief Executive Officer, Prince Georges County Schools reports on a recent survey to assess community support for SROs. (Sworn Law enforcement Officers responsible for safety and crime prevention in schools.)

"I want to express my appreciation to the more than 13,000 respondents. Among the major findings:
  • 82 percent described the role of SROs as “important” or “very important” in maintaining a safe and positive teaching and learning environment.
  • 70 percent support assigning SROs to middle schools; for high school, the figure increased to 80 percent. 
  • Of those who had interacted with SROs, 92 percent described it as positive.
  • 94 percent support additional training for SROs to help de-escalate incidents."
Pandemic takes its toll on students
The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc in many areas of our lives, perhaps nowhere more so than in the education of our children.
The initial decision to close schools made sense when we didn't know very much about the virus. The effort to offer virtual learning in the fall was a sound interim alternative, but forced teachers to learn a new way of teaching, and failed to include thousands of students with no access to the internet.
We now have an entire year of experience with 'COVId-19 and more than half the school systems in the country have reopened. Some jurisdictions opened completely; more offered a hybrid version, allowing teachers and students with more serious concerns about COVID to remain home and continue virtual learning.

Reopening as soon as possible is strongly recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) the foremost medical experts in the Country, and perhaps the world. As long ago as July of 2020, the CDC said the following: "the harms attributed to closed schools on the social, emotional, and behavioral health, economic well-being, and academic achievement of children in both the short- and long-term, are well-known and significant. Further, the lack of in-person educational options disproportionately harms low-income and minority children and those living with disabilities."
"The Importance of Reopening America's Schools this Fall," July 23, 2020

Unfortunately, some jurisdictions, including Howard County, are refusing even to consider reopening.
Why are schools refusing to reopen? Politics, leadership and unions.
Teachers' unions have been uniformly opposed to reopening schools. Concerned that Baltimore City was planning to reopen, the City's teachers union held a socially-distanced protest, with more than 30 cars lined up outside school headquarters honking horns and decked out with signs that read “no staff forced in” and “#safenot silenced”
"Parents say they have lost the argument — so far — against teachers unions, who have advocated for schools to stay closed until districts can accommodate a list of safety demands."

“It seems like a stalemate and the teachers union seems to be winning,” said Brian Taylor, a Howard County parent of two high school students.

from "While schools have reopened in much of the country, many Maryland
students remain online," The Baltimore Sun, Jan. 4, 2021
Teachers' Union: Whose side are you on?'
For years, "teachers unions" have enjoyed wide respect. The public has generally felt that the teachers unions acted in the 'best interests of the children."

That respect is dwindling as the unions continue to oppose reopening. In truth, the teachers unions are doing exactly what unions do: they negotiate/demand to get more of everything for their members. As the late Albert Shanker, former head of the United Federation of Teachers, said: ”When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren.”

The difference this time is that the public is getting a first-hand look at what happens when the interests of the teachers unions are adverse to those of the students, and the public is fighting back:
Parents fight back on Facebook
"For every child failing academically, that is on YOU hcea. For every child's meltdown, every escalating mental breakdown, every parent worried and constantly monitoring their child for a potential suicide attempt, that is ALL ON YOU hcea. For all the kids who are sitting out in the cold outside at the library trying to access wifi, that is also on YOU hcea. For every child home alone because their parent doesn't have the luxury to telecommute and they struggle to get their work done by themselves, THAT IS ALL ON YOU HCEA BECAUSE YOU HAVE MISERABLY FAILED OUR KIDS."
"Get a grip. No other category of workers/employees was asked “So you FEEL like coming back to work?” NO! They were TOLD to come back, wear a mask, and move on. All this nonsense clearly shows you do not care about the students at all. Shame on you."
"This is a disgrace I don’t ever again want to hear about how Howard county schools are the best in the country. Instead of figuring out how to get the kids back to school, this county spends more time saying how they cannot. How are private schools, schools in the rest of the US and other countries open? I am sorry every day that we moved back here and my kids are suffering for it."
Praise for Carroll County -- and Baltimore City Schools
Two jurisdictions that are putting the interests of children first are Carroll County and the City of Baltimore. Carroll County generally puts the needs of its children first; Baltimore City, not so much.

The City's school CEO, Sonja Santelises, speaking at a recent school board meeting said that schools will open for kindergarten through fifth grade in mid-February and the balance of students will be phased in over the next weeks. She also made it clear that all families "will continue to have the option of keeping their children at home to learn online."

"The school system cannot wait for teachers to be vaccinated to return students to the classroom," . . .“Many of our students are in danger of falling irreparably behind if we do not take action now,” Santelises said. “We will not ignore the needs of students for whom virtual learning is not enough when we have a safe, proven alternative to meet their needs.”

District 9A

Howard County News
The Howard County Delegation will hold its first meeting of the 2021 session at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, January 20, 2021. 
This meeting will be held virtually and will be streamed live on Youtube. 
The live stream will be accessible through the Maryland General Assembly website home page ( Scroll down to Today’s Calendar. Click on the arrow next to Committee Meetings under Other, and then select Howard. Next, click on the red Live! button, which will open the streaming video on YouTube. (The Live! button will appear when the meeting goes live.)

For further information, contact:
Erinn Camp Mansour, Legislative Aide
to Senator Clarence K. Lam
Phone: 410-841-3653 | 410-858-3653 |

Carroll County News
Leadership Carroll Class of 2022 Now Accepting Applications
Leadership Carroll is the premier Leadership Development program in Carroll County, sponsored by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and Carroll Community College.

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