The Maryland State’s Attorneys’ Association’s (MSAA) Prosecutorial Police Reform Sub-Committee has made a number of recommendations to its membership; it is unclear how many of the State’s attorneys endorse the recommendations, but some of those recommendations bear close scrutiny because they support the effort of groups and individuals who want to reduce the authority of local law enforcement to act to protect the citizens and reduce funding for local law enforcement.
It is disturbing to note that an association of elected officials, state’s attorneys, are attempting to usurp the authority of another group of elected officials, sheriffs. One of the most disconcerting recommendations of the MSAA is appointment of an independent police agency within the offices of state’s attorneys who would have the authority to investigate police use of force in instances involving serious bodily injury or death. This recommendation begs the question of who determines what serious bodily injury is; currently, any injury to an individual while being taken into custody is treated by the local sheriff’s department as serious and requiring an internal report and evaluation of the use of force. However, to elevate non-life- threatening injuries to investigation by an external police force is a violation of the constitutional authority of elected sheriffs.
Establishing police authority under the auspices of state’s attorneys will no doubt reduce the resources available to support the sheriffs; it also reduces the efficiency with which individual instances of use of force can be addressed, which can have the unintended consequence of failure to detect any inappropriate use of force in a timely manner. This is an attempt, it would appear, to bow to the voice of the far left and to fix a problem that does not exist.
Ironically, MSAA’s recommendations establish that their association is “opposed to any independent agency usurping our constitutional obligations in the prosecuting of any case, including police use of force cases.” However, MSAA did not consult with Maryland Sheriff’s Association prior to submitting recommendations, some of which usurp sheriffs’ authority, prior to submitting them to their membership. A classic case of “good for me, but not for thee.”
If people want locally elected sheriffs to have the authority established under the constitution to enforce the law without interference from an entity which has less direct knowledge of its operation and obligations, they need to speak out against the usurpation of authority from our local sheriff’s departments throughout the state.