ANNAPOLIS, Md. — With a Maryland House committee set to make recommendations on police reform legislation for 2021, a new poll shows a majority of Marylanders support the group’s efforts.

The Goucher College Poll finds 87% of people surveyed want officials to create a public record of police misconduct cases.

And almost as many said they want police officers to undergo racial bias training.

Larry Stafford, executive director for the group Progressive Maryland said the state has seen too many instances of police aggression toward Black and Latino residents, such as the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore.

“We know that police happen to use lethal force and use other means of abusing residents in Black and Brown communities,” Stafford asserted. “We know that there are disproportionate amounts of complaints that come from Black and Latino communities. And so, I think it’s a positive step forward.”

The legislative workgroup is expected to release its final recommendations by Friday. This will include whether to keep an Officer’s Bill of Rights, which law enforcement groups support.

Only 28% in the survey said they support the movement to “defund the police.” But almost 55% said they’re in favor of reducing police department budgets and shifting the funds to social programs to support underserved communities.

Stafford said the phrase “defund the police” is often misunderstood, but it really means to reallocate resources.

“It means to divest from more punitive measures and divest from methods that increase incarceration,” Stafford explained. “And investing in strategies that uplift communities and help to transform communities to their own benefit.”

Almost 80% of respondents said they support creating statewide policies to reduce the use and escalation of force during arrests.

The poll was conducted in late September and early October and surveyed about a thousand residents.

Diane Bernard, Public News Service

Diane Bernard is a digital and radio journalist based in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area with more than 10 years of journalism experience. Her print and online credits include work for The Washington...

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