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Saturday, Maryland’s legislature overrode a gubernatorial veto to enact meaningful policing reform. In response, Kristina Roth, Senior Advocate for Criminal Justice Programs at Amnesty International USA, released the following statement: 

“We are pleased to see Maryland now joins the majority of U.S. states in enacting a law, the Maryland Use of Force Statute, to limit police use of force. There now are just seven states in the U.S. without such a law. Maryland’s new law places it among just a few states that require police officers not to use force unless it is ‘necessary and proportional’, and makes it the first in the country to have a law that directs officers to cease using force if an officer determines that force will no longer accomplish a legitimate law enforcement objective.  

“As the country watches the ongoing trial in Minneapolis, Maryland’s new law enacts a number of provisions that address what the world witnessed on the video of George Floyd’s torture and extrajudicial execution, such as requiring officers to cease using force when a person is under the officer’s control and no longer presents a threat, requiring other officers to intervene when they witness a colleague using excessive force, and requiring officers to render basic first aid to any person injured at the scene, among other provisions.

“Law enforcement should be about keeping people safe, yet too often we see videos of officers using force that appears excessive and for the sole purpose of cruelty and dehumanizing someone. Each year police kill over 1,000 people in the U.S. Between 2013 and 2020, 144 people were killed by police in Maryland, 87 of them Black. In that time frame, Black people accounted for 29% of the state’s population, but were 60% of the people killed by police. While this new law is not perfect, it sends a message that Marylanders should no longer be victim to excessive use of force by law enforcement officers without accountability, and that police must respect the right to live.” 

Background

On February 5, 2021, Amnesty International USA testified before the House Judiciary Bill hearing on Law Enforcement Use of Force. 

On August 6, 2020, AIUSA presented on police use of force to the House Working Group to address Police Reform and Accountability. 

In 2015, Amnesty International USA released a report, Deadly Force: Police Use of Lethal Force in the United States, that found that no state in the U.S. nor our federal standards for law enforcement officers’ use of force met international law and standards. AIUSA’s work to close the gap between domestic law and international human right standards on police use of force persists at the state and federal level.

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