Voters will get the chance to decide whether the city should take back full control of the Police Department from the state. It will be the first time since 1860. On the city ballots in either 2022 or 2024, the question will appear. This is after legislation that is setting up the referendum on the status of the Police Department went through easily through the state’s General Assembly. On Wednesday, state senators unanimously approved the bill. In fact, it was approved by Senator Cory McCray and Delegate Melissa Wells, both Democrats. They then went on to send it to Republican Governor Larry Hogan’s desk. Recently, the House of Delegates did, in fact, pass the legislation on a vote that was 115-21, with a veto-proof majority.
Voters get the Power!
During his time on the Baltimore City Council, Democratic Mayor Brandon Scott championed the issue. He then drafted the legislation and, as a result, threw the support of his administration behind it. Recently, Scott said that the change would, therefore, allow the city to improve policing and fulfill the requirements of its consent decree.
Decree with the U.S. Department of Justice
In 2017, Baltimore entered into a decree with the U.S. Department of Justice. This occurred after an investigation found the police department has continuously violated residents’ civil rights. Moreover, this happened in poor and mostly minority neighborhoods. Thus, under the terms of the agreement, the department must put in place reforms and report ongoing to a federal judge and an independent monitoring team.
“The answering of national calls for justice starts at home. We want to foster an environment of policing that involves transparency and accountability,” Scott said. “Moreover, today, I am proud to say that Baltimore is moving in the correct direction.”
A Republican, Hogan, hasn’t thus weighed in on the issue of local control. Also, a spokesman hasn’t got back to questions about whether he supports holding the referendum. In both chambers of the General Assembly, the bill’s board support would, in fact, give lawmakers enough voters to override any potential veto.