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In the Media: Lawmakers Consider Banning Police 'Rough Rides'; Baltimore 'Stabilized'

Baltimore Police Officers at Camden Yards

A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.

From the Baltimore Sun: Maryland Lawmakers Consider Banning Police 'Rough Rides'

“Maryland lawmakers are considering legislation that would prohibit law enforcement officers from giving ‘rough rides’ to prisoners, meant to hurt them during transport.

"A bill proposed in the General Assembly would require all prisoners to be secured with a seat belt while being transported, a precaution proponents say could have prevented the mortal injury Freddie Gray suffered while handcuffed and shackled but unbelted in the back of a Baltimore police van last April.

"While a police investigation found no evidence that Gray received a deliberate rough ride that bounced him around the back of the van, prosecutors have suggested in court documents that they intend to make that case in a trial of one of the Baltimore police officers charged in his death. All six officers have pleaded not guilty.

"Sen. Joan Carter Conway, the Baltimore Democrat who is sponsoring the bill, said it's 'common sense' to put prisoners in seat belts. She proposes fining officers $10,000 if an unsecured prisoner is seriously injured or killed while being transported.

"Gray's death, and the unrest that followed, has inspired more than 30 pieces of legislation in the current legislative session. Many of the bills seek to address the underlying distrust between poor black communities and the officers who police them. But a few take on circumstances associated with Gray's death.

"Lawmakers have proposed legislation that would force every jurisdiction in the state to install seat belts in police vehicles, make it a crime not to seek medical help for a detainee, mandate video recording inside vans and require police to put helmets on prisoners.”

Full Article

From the AFRO American: Annapolis Md. HBCU Rally Planned to Protest State’s Insulting Proposal to Resolving Inequalities

“Faculty representatives from the four Maryland HBCUs – Morgan State University, Coppin State University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Bowie State University – are planning a rally on March 2 at 4 p.m. in Annapolis to draw attention to the ongoing lawsuit over inequality at HBCUs.

"The group, which will include busloads of students and alumni from the four schools, is also planning on meeting with Del. Barbara A. Robinson, D-Baltimore, chair of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland.

"In 2013, Judge Catherine C. Blake ruled that Maryland’s traditional White institutions had been duplicating programs at the HBCUs, which had the effect of segregating the HBCUs as well as decreasing their enrollment.

"The lawsuit was brought by the Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education – which comprises alumni of Maryland HBCUs – against the state’s higher education body, the Maryland Higher Education Commission.

"Following Blake’s ruling, she asked both parties to offer ways of fixing the inequality. Last May the Coalition submitted their proposals. Among their suggestions: merging the University of Baltimore into Morgan State and moving programs from traditional White institutions to HBCUs.

"Last November, the state finally responded. In addition to opposing the merger between Morgan and the University of Baltimore, the state offered $10 million over six years to help HBCUs and TWIs to collaborate and suggested establishing summer programs at HBCUs where recently graduated high school seniors could earn college credit while learning more about HBCUs.

"In early February, Blake rejected the Coalition’s proposed merger of Morgan State and the University of Baltimore and also said that the state’s $10 million proposal was inadequate. Both sides are now in the process of submitting new expert testimony to bolster their cases.”

Full Article

From the Washington Post: Commissioner Davis Says Baltimore Has ‘Stabilized’ After Deadliest Year

“Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said the city has ‘stabilized’ since recording its deadliest year on record in 2015 and hopes increased community support in getting violent criminals off the streets will translate to further gains.

"‘Community support is an art form. It’s not an exact science, but I certainly feel it,’ Davis said during a panel discussion on WMAR-TV’s ‘Square Off’ program with host Richard Sher that aired Sunday.

"‘It feels different in 2016, and I’m hopeful it’s contagious,’ Davis said.

"Davis has been espousing community­-oriented policing based on improved relationships with residents since he took over the department last summer. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D) fired Davis’s predecessor, Anthony W. Batts, in July after the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray from injuries acquired in police custody in April, the rioting and looting that occurred after Gray’s funeral, and a surge in killings in the months that followed.

"The pace of violence continued after Davis took over, and there were 344 homicides in Baltimore by year’s end — the most killings per capita on record and the first time homicides had topped 300 since 1999.

"The pace fell for the first time in January, when there were 14 homicides. It has ticked back up this month — there had been 22 homicides this month as of Saturday afternoon — but Davis said the city is back on the right track.”

Full Article