Martin O’Malley Calls For Racial Bias Training For Police In New Criminal Justice Plan

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
Font Size:

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley unveiled a new criminal justice reform plan Friday, in a release timed to coordinate with his appearance at the National Urban League’s annual conference in Fort Lauderdale.

In a nine-page plan, O’Malley, the former mayor of Baltimore and former governor of Maryland, is calling for a number of initiatives that are sure to please the progressive wing of the Democratic party. Among those is legislation to require racial bias training for police, the establishment of a national use of force standard for police, an expansion of civilian review boards, and the lowering of the standard required to bring civil rights cases.

In introducing the plan on Friday, O’Malley highlighted his stint as mayor of Baltimore from 1999 to 2007. Calling the early period of his mayoral stint the “turnaround years,” O’Malley recalled that “every year we buried 300 young black men who died violent deaths on our streets.”

“And black lives matter,” he added, in what was likely a make-up for saying at Netroots Nation earlier this month that “black lives matter, white lives matter, all lives matter.” Activists in the audience at that progressive conference shouted O’Malley down and forced him to apologize for not prioritizing black lives.

O’Malley has also been criticized for his record as mayor of Baltimore. While violent crime did decrease in Baltimore — as it did throughout the U.S. — O’Malley enacted some policies aimed at curbing drug dealing which led to more arrests, mostly of young black men.

In his new plan, O’Malley says he wants to enact “legislation to require law enforcement agencies to report data on all police-involved shootings, custodial deaths, discourtesy complaints, and use of excessive force.” The data would be centralized and made publicly available, O’Malley’s plan states.

He will also support legislation that requires states to comply with federal use of force guidelines. Police officers would also be forced to undergo “racial bias training and crisis de-escalation training.”

O’Malley’s plan also mentions Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner and laments the high bar required to prosecute federal civil rights crimes with the Justice Department. In the case of Martin, the Justice Department found no cause to file federal charges against his killer, George Zimmerman.

The Justice Department also found no evidence to support federal charges against Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Mo. police officer who fatally shot Brown. A federal probe of Garner’s death at the hands of a Staten Island cop is still pending.

“O’Malley would call on Congress to revise this standard so that the federal government can act as an effective backstop for ensuring justice,” the plan states.

O’Malley’s call to action also includes reforms that have gained traction not just with progressives but with many on the right. He wants to enact civil asset forfeiture reform, eliminate sentencing disparities between cocaine and crack, and declassify marijuana as a Schedule I drug. He’s also calling for the end of the death penalty and the elimination of mandatory-minimum sentences for low-level drug offenses.

The plan also calls for the restoration of voting rights for felons.

Immigration also finds a way into O’Malley’s proposal.

He wants to end Operation Streamline, a Department of Homeland Security initiative that was started in 2005 to speed up removal proceedings for recent border-crosses and aliens accused of illegal re-entry.

And as he did in the aftermath of Kate Steinle’s death at the hands of Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a five times-deported illegal alien, O’Malley reiterated his support for sanctuary city policies which allow local law enforcement agencies to ignore federal immigration policy.

Follow Chuck on Twitter