Commentary

printed 04/09/2021

The police reform measures heading toward passage in the General Assembly aren’t as onerous as opponents of the legislation say they are, at least not in this neck of the woods.

To borrow the phrase law-and-order advocates often say to civilians when governments institute some unwanted public safety practice such as drone surveillance, or cameras, if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.

That is especially the case locally, where the police rarely, if ever, find themselves in hot water for doing anything even remotely similar to the incidents that spurred the call for reform.

That sort of thing just doesn’t happen here, and isn’t likely to, given the direction that departments receive, the area’s demographics, and the nature of the crimes that do occur on the coast.

That’s not true in, say, Baltimore, where extensive police corruption that included theft, drug dealing and violent assault put Charm City in the harsh national spotlight not that long ago. And similar circumstances have occurred in other cities around the country, thus leading to demands that something needs to be changed.

Unfortunately, no such thing as one-size-fits-all legislation can be created in a state as geographically and demographically varied as this one. The good guys are lumped in with the bad guys, as is the case with many laws and regulations, which are written to protect the majority from the few by restricting some aspects of everyone’s liberties. That’s just how it works.

Local members of the law enforcement community should not feel targeted by this effort or that the public or the pro-reform legislators don’t respect what they do. That’s not what’s happening.

Realistically, what’s being said is that because not every member of every department elsewhere in the state doesn’t abide by the same standards as local law enforcement, something needed to be done.

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