MARYLAND’S LAW ENFORCEMENT BILL OF RIGHTS (LEOBR)

• Two landmark Supreme Court decisions: Garrity v. New Jersey (1967) and Gardner v. Broderick (1968), identified a need to create uniform level of due process for Law enforcement officers accused of wrongdoing

• This need for a uniform level of procedural protections and the gravity of the potential harm to officers was recognized by the Maryland General Assembly who, in 1974 enacted The Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBR)

• The LEOBR is intended to protect law enforcement officers from unreasonable investigation and persecution caused by the extraordinary circumstances often faced in the official performance of their duties

• Inherent in police work is the conflict between police and persons being arrested, who may make unwarranted complaints out of dislike for the police and/or to use as a bargaining chip for criminal charges against them. This unique situation underscores the need for fair and thorough investigations of such complaints.

• The LEOBR applies to law enforcement officers who are authorized to make arrests and are a member of a majority of Maryland’s law enforcement agencies

• The LEOBR does not apply to a law enforcement officer who is in a probationary status on initial entry into the law enforcement agency except if an allegation of brutality in the performance of the officer’s duties

• The LEOBR also states that it does not limit the authority of the Chief to regulate the competent and efficient operation and management of a law enforcement agency by any means including transfer and reassignment

• The LEOBR grants procedural rights to law enforcement officers during disciplinary investigations, interrogations and hearings that could lead to disciplinary action, demotion or dismissal

• The fact that law enforcement agencies must investigate numerous complaints against police officers underscores the importance of having provisions concerning internal affairs investigations in the LEOBR

• The LEOBR protects law enforcement officers from being summarily dismissed from their jobs without explanation due to administrative or political expediency without due process

• The LEOBR establishes an effective means for the receipt, review and investigation of public complaints against law enforcement officers that is fair and equitable to all

• While some provisions of the LEOBR may appear accommodating to law enforcement officers, they are offset by provisions that are accommodating to management: 1) the chief’s selection of all hearing board members; 2) the chief’s authority to overrule the hearing board’s recommendation regarding punishment (This may be bargained with the Chief at the local level and has in 2 jurisdictions)

• The LEOBR does not protect the jobs of bad cops or officers who are unfit for duty.

• The LEOBR does not afford law enforcement officers any greater rights than those possessed by other citizens; it simply reaffirms the existence of those rights in the unique context of the law enforcement community

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