Md. Governor to Sign Nine Public Safety Bills into Law - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Md. Governor to Sign Nine Public Safety Bills into Law

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ANNAPOLIS, Md.- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan hopes to improve community relations and law enforcement policies by signing nine bills into law during a bill ceremony on Tuesday.

"These bills directly address public safety and community relations issues, including the day-to-day operations of our law enforcement officials," said Hogan in a statement on his website. "Ensuring the safety of our citizens will always be a priority of our administration, and I am proud to sign these bills into law."

The measure comes at time when tensions are high in Baltimore over the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died from spinal cord injuries just days after a police encounter. Peaceful protests turned violent Saturday as angry protesters confronted police, destroyed their vehicles and wreaked havoc in the streets. 

Among several new laws on the way, is one that would require law enforcement agencies to report deaths that happen in police custody. The measure, HB 954, would require officers to  provide the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention with information about a person's death while in custody, as well as deaths of officers in the line of duty.

Other bills include SB 482 and HB 533, which would establish the Commission Regarding the Implementation and Use of Body Cameras by Law Enforcement Officers to study and make recommendations to the Police Training Commission and the General Assembly.

Rick Bestep agrees with the changes.

"They [state government] need to know what's going on, what happened just to cover themselves [law enforcement], they've [state] got to do it," Bestep said.

Cassandra Scott of Salisbury understands why people are protesting, but thinks it should be done  peacefully.

"The people need to take a stand; they have the right to protest." Scott said. "The violence does need to stop, but they have the right to protest."

Hogan plans to ease liability limits under HB 133, which increases limits on local government tort claims. The law would increase civil claims against a local government to $400,000. This cap was last raised 28 years ago in 1987.

A second bill, HB 114, would raise the cap to $800,000 for civil claims against the state government.This cap was last raised 16 years ago in 1999.

The bill ceremony will take place tomorrow beginning at 9 a.m.

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