Brian Blubaugh, President , MTA
Several members of the MTA have asked about the MTA’s position regarding police reform and defunding. Questions have also been asked why looting, rioting, and acts of violence have not resulted in enforcement action by the police. While I can’t address enforcement action, or the lack thereof, I can speak to police reform.
Police reform is coming and will be a major topic of discussion in the upcoming general assembly beginning January, 2021. House of Delegates Speaker Adrianne Jones has formed a commission of Delegates to address police reform, meeting on June 23, 2020. You can view the commission meeting by clicking on the link at the end of this message. Will Smith, Chairman of the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, promises to hold committee hearings on police reform in the fall of 2020.
The MTA, along with the MTA’s law firm and MTA’s lobbyist, is closely monitoring the various committees addressing police reform. One of the suggestions for police reform is making personnel records of police officers available under a Public Information Act (PIA) request. Currently, police disciplinary records are personnel records and protected from release. Another suggestion is the eroding and/or elimination of the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights (LEOBR). There was a major overhaul of LEOBR in 2016. The MTA is committed to monitoring and opposing any police reform where it infringes on the rights of Troopers and places the Trooper in an increased hazardous situation.
As for defunding, the MTA is against any movement to defund a police department. I know firsthand that any defunding will ultimately result in the reduction of manpower. On the contrary, police departments need more funding for manpower, training, and equipment to properly do their jobs.
Even with the events occurring across the nation, I believe the majority of citizens in Maryland appreciate and support law enforcement. The MTA has heard from several of our civilian supporters who have expressed their utmost respect and admiration for you. Remember, you have the best law enforcement training in Maryland and are “Maryland’s Finest.” The MTA knows this and so do Maryland citizens. Be proud of your commitment to serve the Maryland citizens.
Finally, police reform will have a direct impact on all active Maryland State Troopers. As retired Troopers, it may not have a direct impact, but you will certainly be impacted indirectly. Reduction of funding reduces the availability of Troopers (police officers) able to respond to serve the citizens of Maryland. It has already been shown that the lack of police responding to incidents has caused crime to escalate. Whether an active Trooper or a Retired Trooper, you and all citizens should closely watch what happens in Annapolis in the upcoming legislative session and make your position known to your elected Delegate and Senator.
Remember, these individuals need to run for reelection in the fall of 2022.