Maryland became the first state to abolish its statewide Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights and introduce new rules related to police enforcement investigation and discipline on Saturday, April 10.

The Democratic-controlled legislature delivered a stinging rebuke to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, overriding his vetoes of bills that would increase the threshold for officers to use force, grant civilians a voice in police discipline for the first time, limit no-knock warrants, require body cameras, and open certain police misconduct charges to public scrutiny, reports the Examiner.

The Maryland House of Delegates overrode Governor Hogan’s veto of House Bill 670 on Friday. The state Senate did the same on Saturday, overriding the governor’s vetoes of Senate Bills 71 and 178.

Democrats, who control the legislature, made enacting the bills a top priority. They celebrated the override votes.

Democratic lawmaker. Del. Gabriel Acevero, delivered a floor speech in support of overriding the veto of S.B. 178, nicknamed “Anton’s Law” for Anton Black, a 19-year-old black man who died in police custody in 2018, called Hogan a “coward” for vetoing the legislation.

 

When Anton Black was killed, @GovLarryHogan said his family deserved answers & accountability. I have publicly called on Hogan to support legislation I’ve introduced named after him (Anton’s Law) that would ensure police transparency; instead of doing that he vetoed it. Coward.

— Del. Gabriel Acevero (@GabrielAcevero) April 10, 2021

“Proud to cast my vote in favor of overriding @GovLarryHogan ‘s veto of #AntonsLaw,” he said.

Proud to cast my vote in favor of overriding @GovLarryHogan ‘s veto of #AntonsLaw .

— Del. Gabriel Acevero (@GabrielAcevero) April 10, 2021

The raft of bills “starts the work,” according to Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City). “What we are doing today is taking a step forward to creating greater public safety where every single member of our community feels safe,” Ferguson said. “We’re not there, but with this framework, we can get there.”

The Maryland Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights stated that it is designed “to guarantee certain procedural safeguards to law enforcement officers during any investigation or interrogation or subsequent hearing that could lead to disciplinary action, demotion or dismissal.”

Many Republican lawmakers spoke about the risks police officers face on the job during months of discussion, saying that the bills would eliminate necessary protections. 

In a letter to House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson, Hogan clarified the three vetoes, saying the bills as drafted compromised the common objective of “building transparent, accountable, and effective law enforcement institutions,” instead “resulting in great damage to police recruitment and retention [and] posing significant risks to public safety throughout our state.”

H.B. 670, which would abolish the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, was condemned by Hogan, who said the plan “was done in a haphazard fashion with little collaboration from all interested stakeholders.”

“The result is a bill that does very little to increase accountability that law enforcement officers deserve and the public should expect,” he added. “Instead of a uniform, statewide process of police discipline, this bill would create a patchwork of hundreds of locally devised processes. … The basic due process protections to which police are entitled have been removed. … Our police and our citizens deserve far better. The extreme flaws in this bill leave me no alternative but to veto this bill.”