Community leaders discuss police reform

Maryland

MARYLAND (WDVM) — As dialogue over police reform continues throughout the country, Sen. Chris Van Hollen is reintroducing legislation he believes will help.

In October 2020, Sen Van Hollen introduced the Community-Based Response Act. The proposed legislation would establish programs to provide an additional option beyond law enforcement for community-based emergency response.

There are many times in which police responses have resulted in unnecessary escalation and tragic death and now, Leaders are calling for accountability.

“Police should actually be held to a higher standard because they are the only people who have street-level discretion, to use lethal force in America,” said Rev. Kobi Little, president of the NAACP Baltimore City Chapter. “As trained professionals, they must be held to the highest standards of accountability. Not given rights that place them above the law or protect them from their misdeeds.”

Some activists like Ericka Bridgeford says public safety can’t just be “reimagined”, it has to be dismantled.

“We have to look at the roots of it, and then undo and dismantle and heal all of the places that are designed to intentionally criminalize and problematize certain demographics of people,” said Bridgeford.

While lawmakers are hopeful this legislation can be an alternative, systemic change does not happen overnight, but Senator Van Hollen believes that the nation needs to continue to have these hard conversations.

“In my view, it’s this kind of discussion that brings out the different pieces and emotions that we’ve got to combine to build a more peaceful city, state, and country.”

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