As you know, the 2021 Maryland General Assembly session is underway. State FOP leadership has had daily discussions with the Senate and House leadership, our legal team, lobbyists, public relations firm, community stakeholders, and the State Lodge Legislative Committee. Additionally, we have already testified, or written opposition letters, on several proposed pieces of legislation.
Due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the pending fight to protect our members from misguided police reforms, the Legislative Committee started earlier than usual this year. We are actively tracking numerous bills which you can find on our website.
As of today, there are a total of 741 bills filed in the House and 573 in the Senate. Police reform bills continue to be filed at a rapid pace. Today, House “leadership sponsored” police reform bills, HB670, Repeal of the LEOBR and HB671, Disclosure of Police Discipline Records, were introduced. It is imperative that we start our messaging campaign now.
We have enlisted the services of a public relations firm to assist with the creation of digital and radio advertisements, a specialized website aimed at supporting sensible police reforms, and a messaging campaign for FOP members. We must solicit the help of our family and friends to help spread our message. We want them to help tell our story via social media channels and, in the process, use specific “hashtags” to help humanize our profession.
Part of our strategy is to use social media platforms to guide community members and legislators towards the overwhelmingly positive aspects of the law enforcement community and toward our new “tagline:” #KeepMarylandSafe. We ask each of you to talk to your family, friends and associates and encourage them to participate.
Our new KeepMarylandSafe.com website is live and it will serve as an outlet for news and information pertinent to our agenda. The website will relay FOP positions on proposed legislation, and will provide an avenue to easily contact legislators with predetermined FOP messages of support or opposition.
Shortly after the filing of these police reform bills, the Maryland State Lodge will produce specific talking points for each of you to discuss with your local stakeholders. Our expectation is that the police reform bills will will move quickly. Because the legislature is intent on expedient rather than quality reforms, this legislative process could be over within 30 days of the bill filings.
Make no mistake… this will be a hard fight! The current desire of many within the legislature is to completely repeal the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights. Part of our strategy is to pressure legislators through direct contact, and to wage a full-scale messaging campaign from FOP members, associates and concerned citizens. If you have any questions, concerns, or ideas do not hesitate to contact the lodge for assistance.