We are just past the halfway point for the General Assembly session in Annapolis. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve Carroll County in the State Senate. A big part of the responsibility of senators and delegates is voting on and working on legislation spanning a whole host of issues. This year, we have well over 3,000 bills that have been drafted. Not all of these will get a vote, but it is a large workload. I've always believed that my job is not just passing good bills, it's often just as important to defeat bad or poorly written bills that could hurt working families, our economy or make our communities less safe.
This year there has been an intense focus on police issues with some legislators trying to address complaints and problems that they see in their area and nationally with community and police relations. I serve on the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee where we hear legislation dealing with these types of issues.
I am proud to support law enforcement personnel who serve Carroll County and those that live in our county but work in other jurisdictions. Police officers put their lives on the line in the name of public service every day. They never know when a traffic stop or interaction on the street could turn violent. These men and women, through their sacrifice, are vital in making safe and prosperous communities for us to call home.
The tragic killing of two deputies in Harford County has served as a reminder of the tremendous situations our law enforcement officers face every day. This past weekend our neighbors in Virginia lost an officer in the line of duty. Unfortunately, during the unrest in Baltimore and some of the national controversy surrounding incidents of alleged police brutality, there was a lot of antagonistic rhetoric about law enforcement.
Sheriff Jim DeWees was right in asking President Obama to reach out to law enforcement in the wake of officer deaths, perhaps inviting officers to the White House or attending some police officer funerals. In some places, there has been a history of distrust between law enforcement and citizens but the potential solutions for that distrust come down heavily on punishing and blaming current police officers for things that happened in the past. That's not right.
In some areas of the state, reforms are needed that involve greater community involvement in policing and greater transparency. Statewide criminal justice reform to allow non-violent offenders, especially those struggling with addiction, to have a second chance is something that I support and it would help places like Baltimore tremendously. However, things like legislation to force police officers to carry their own insurance or bills trying to roll back protections and benefits for police go too far and I will fight against them.
All of us in the Carroll County delegation are thankful for the service of our Carroll County Sheriff's Office, town police forces and the Maryland State Police. Our county is a welcoming and supportive place for police officers and their families. We are committed to ensuring that our communities are kept safe, and those who serve to that effect are given clear vision, training and the resources they need to succeed. Leaders in troubled communities need to give clear, reasonable expectations to police forces about what a safe community should be and then back up the police in making that happen in a fair way.
As the 2016 session enters its second half, I am eager to answer any questions and discuss any concerns. Please feel free to contact me at 410-841-3683 or[email protected].