HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — Earlier this year, Maryland’s general assembly passed a series of bills to reform policing in the state. Mandates passed during the 2020 session included stricter disciplinary processes, new standards for use of force, and required body cameras.
Hagerstown Police Chief Paul Kifer said his department was already following most of the guidelines in the bill. But Kifer also expressed his concern over how some people may use the new laws as a way to feel power over officers and file unnecessary complaints, possibly causing a divide between officers and the community and impacting officer morale.
“It may not be a conscious wall, it may be a subconscious wall, [and] self-protection comes into play. ‘I don’t know who’s gonna complain on me … I’m just going to kind of watch where I’m at and what I’m saying to people,'” said Kifer. “And you may come across, you know, distant.”
The chief said he doesn’t believe many people will take advantage of this, but it’s still something to be aware of.
Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed the police reform bills in April. The general assembly voted to overrule his decision.