In this July 13, 2011, photo, a capitol security officer makes his way past an entrance to the State House in Augusta. Credit: Pat Wellenbach / AP

Join us at 6 p.m., Thursday, April 29, as Bangor Daily News Maine Focus editor Erin Rhoda and reporter Callie Ferguson sit down with Sen. Lisa Keim, R-Dixfield; Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos, I-Friendship; and Rep. Charlotte Warren, D-Hallowell. They’ll discuss law enforcement oversight and the bills that are being crafted in Maine amid a national examination of policing. Click here to register: tinyurl.com/lawmakerforum

In April, Maryland lawmakers passed bills that mandate the use of police body-worn cameras statewide and limit police officers’ use of search warrants without first announcing their presence. As the first state to have a Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, lawmakers also made Maryland the first to repeal it, deciding instead to add more civilians to police oversight roles.

In March, Kentucky’s governor signed a bill that adds more ways for police to have their licenses revoked and protects police agencies that provide internal investigations into officers — even investigations that are incomplete because an officer resigns — to future hiring agencies.

Indiana will now require officers to receive training in de-escalation techniques. And Minnesota will require officers to intervene if they see other officers using excessive force and to report what they witnessed in writing within 24 hours.

As most states around the country have passed police oversight legislation in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, Maine’s legislative decisions are still to come.

As of Friday morning, 44 states had enacted 187 bills relating to police oversight and data, training, standards and certification, use of force, technology and policing alternatives since May 2020, according to a Bangor Daily News analysis of data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Maine could soon join them. As Maine lawmakers continue crafting and debating bill language this session, Gov. Janet Mills has only begun to sign legislation into law. As of Friday, none of the 29 bills she has signed so far related to law enforcement practices or oversight.

But there are a number of proposals on the horizon. They range from protecting police by making punishments harsher for those who commit crimes against law enforcement to ending officers’ qualified immunity defense when they commit human rights violations.

A couple bills would eliminate the use of no-knock warrants, which gained notoriety when used by three Louisville, Kentucky, police officers to raid the home of Breonna Tayler, where they fatally shot her in her bed.

Other bills focus on Maine’s police overseer, the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, to give it more power to revoke officers’ certifications, expand its committee that looks into whether to decertify officers and install more oversight roles for civilians.

Police organizations are so far supporting several bills that would institute more accountability measures, including one to require agencies to release officers’ job performance-related records to hiring agencies, another to create a way for the governor to place a sheriff on administrative leave while under investigation, and a third to gather information about the demographics of those they are pulling over for traffic violations.

Other bills are proving more controversial, including one to eliminate the Maine State Police’s intelligence agency, the Maine Information and Analysis Center, and another to prohibit officers from using minor traffic offenses as a pretext to pull over drivers to investigate something else.

Below is a rundown of 24 bills. The descriptions of those supporting and opposing the bills include organizations only, not bill sponsors or individual citizens who have testified for or against the legislation. The descriptions of support and opposition are also not always complete as some testimony was not available.

The bills are described as they currently appear on http://legislature.maine.gov/. They will likely be amended in the coming days and weeks as the Legislature holds more public hearings and work sessions to settle differences and cement details.

LD 1422: An Act To Strengthen Laws Protecting Members of Law Enforcement and Promote In-classroom Substance Abuse Awareness Education

Sponsored by Sen. Harold Stewart, R-Presque Isle

This bill would make it possible to sentence defendants for hate crimes when they commit a crime against law enforcement officers. It would also provide $1 million annually to the Maine Department of Education for anti-drug programs.

Testimony: Public hearing not yet scheduled.

LD 793: An Act To Include as a Factor in Sentencing the Selection of a Victim Based on the Victim’s Employment as a Law Enforcement Officer

Sponsored by Sen. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville

Current law on sentencing in criminal cases allows for consideration of bias against certain populations, based on characteristics such as race, religion, sex, disability and sexual orientation. This bill adds employment as a law enforcement officer to the list.

Testimony: Public hearing scheduled for 9 a.m., Thursday, April 29

LD 1171: An Act To Prohibit No-knock Warrants

Sponsored by Rep. Justin Fecteau, R-Augusta

This bill would require police, prior to forcibly entering a location that is the subject of a search warrant, to announce themselves and the purpose for which the warrant was issued. The requirement does not apply if giving notice would create an imminent risk of death or bodily harm to officers or others. Officers who violate the requirement would be committing a Class E misdemeanor crime.

Testimony: Public hearing scheduled for 10 a.m., Monday, April 26

LD 1127: An Act to Prohibit the Use of “No-knock” Warrants”

Sponsored by Rep. Amy Roeder, D-Bangor

This bill would prohibit the use of no-knock warrants and also prohibit law enforcement officers or others from helping with the execution of federal no-knock warrants. Officers who violate the prohibition would commit a Class E crime and be subject to a mandatory sentence of six months in jail.

Testimony: Public hearing scheduled for 10 a.m., Monday, April 26

LD 1043: An Act Concerning the Unannounced Execution of Search Warrants

Sponsored by Rep. David McCrea, D-Fort Fairfield

This bill would require law enforcement agencies to adopt written policies regarding the unannounced execution of search warrants. The policies would have to meet minimum standards adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.

Testimony: Public hearing scheduled for 10 a.m., Monday, April 26

LD 539: An Act To Require Law Enforcement Agencies To Do a Thorough Background Check of Applicant Officers and To Require the Release of Records, Including Sealed Records, to the Requesting Agency

Sponsored by Sen. David Miramant, D-Camden

This bill would require candidates for law enforcement jobs to sign a waiver allowing their prior law enforcement employers to release all performance-related records to the hiring agency. It would require agencies to conduct background checks on officers prior to hiring and forbid an agency from hiring someone who refused to provide the waiver.

Testimony

Support: Maine County Commissioners Association, Maine Chiefs of Police Association, Maine Prosecutors’ Association

Opposition:

LD 573: An Act Concerning Records of the Employment of Law Enforcement Officers and Corrections Officers

Sponsored by Rep. Patrick Corey, R-Windham

The bill would require law enforcement and corrections officers to sign over their previous personnel and employment records, including any internal investigation records, to an agency looking to hire them. The bill would provide civil and criminal immunity to both the sending and the receiving agency. It would also allow a hiring agency to share troubling polygraph information, obtained during the hiring process, with the officer’s current place of employment.

Testimony

Support: Maine Prosecutors’ Association, Maine County Commissioners Association, Maine Chiefs of Police Association

Opposition:

LD 1092: An Act To Expand the Board of Trustees of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy To Include 6 Members of the Public Who Are Not Employed as Any Type of Law Enforcement Personnel and To Require a Public Review of the Training Syllabus

Sponsored by Sen. David Miramant, D-Camden

This bill would add three members to the Board of Trustees of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy for a total of six members who have never been sworn members of a law enforcement agency. It would also require that any change to the academy’s basic law enforcement training program be considered only after public input.

Testimony

Support:

Opposition: Maine Department of Public Safety, Maine Chiefs of Police Association

LD 400: An Act to Modify the Composition of the Board of Trustees of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy

Sponsored by Rep. Arthur Bell, D-Yarmouth

This bill would expand the Board of Trustees of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy from 18 to 19 members by adding a county commissioner who has never been a sworn member of a law enforcement agency.

Testimony

Support: Maine County Commissioners Association

Opposition: Maine Department of Public Safety

LD 513: An Act Regarding the Membership of the Board of Trustees of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy and Its Complaint Review Committee

Sponsored by Rep. Lois Galgay Reckitt, D-South Portland

This bill would expand the Board of Trustees of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy from 18 to 19 members by adding a county commissioner who has never been a sworn member of a law enforcement agency. It would also expand the academy’s complaint review committee to five members, up from the current three, and require two of the members to not have law enforcement backgrounds. The committee hears complaints about officer misconduct and recommends punishments to the full board.

Testimony

Support: Maine County Commissioners Association

Opposition: Maine Department of Public Safety (but it’s in favor of expanding the complaint review committee); the Maine Chiefs of Police Association also favors expanding only the committee.

LD 505: An Act To Expand the Authority of the Board of Trustees of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy Regarding Certification Standards

Sponsored by Rep. David McCrea, D-Fort Fairfield

The bill would give the academy more authority to rescind officers’ credentials should it determine there is sufficient evidence and the behavior is worthy of such action.

Testimony:

Support: Maine Department of Public Safety

Opposition:

LD 1447: An Act To Require Training in Racial Issues, Racial Justice and Social Issues at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy and To Establish Additional Requirements for Law Enforcement Officers and Candidates

Sponsored by Rep. Lori Gramlich, D-Old Orchard Beach

This bill would require law enforcement officers to receive training on racial justice, substance use disorders and other social issues. It would also require officers to have an associate degree in criminal justice or a related field.

Testimony: Public hearing not yet scheduled.

LD 1480: An Act Regarding the Review of Law Enforcement Use of Deadly Force

Sponsored by Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross, D-Portland

This bill would require the attorney general’s office to more quickly complete investigations into officers’ use of deadly force, submitting its findings to the state’s Deadly Force Review Panel within 180 days. If the attorney general can’t meet the deadline, it would have to tell the panel why and provide a summary of the investigation up until that point. It would also exempt video recordings of police use of force from the statutory definition of “intelligence and investigative record information,” which keeps material confidential.

Testimony: Public hearing not yet scheduled

LD 1040: An Act To Require Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Training or Implicit Bias Training for School Resource Officers

Sponsored by Sen. Matthea Daughtry, D-Brunswick

This bill would require a school resource officer to complete diversity, equity and inclusion training or implicit bias training at least once during that officer’s first year of employment.

Testimony

Support: Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition, Maine Education Association, Maine School Management Association

Opposition:

LD 1298: An Act To Provide Funds for Community-based Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery Services and To Reduce by Half the Funding for the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency

Sponsored by Rep. Charlotte Warren, D-Hallowell

The bill would reduce the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency’s budget by $3 million and instead spend the $3 million on addiction treatment and recovery services.

Testimony: Public hearing not yet scheduled

LD 417: An Act To Protect Maine’s Drivers from Pretextual Traffic Stops

Sponsored by Rep. Victoria Morales, D-South Portland

This bill would prohibit law enforcement from using minor traffic offenses as a pretext to pull over drivers in order to investigate something else. If officers obtained evidence in violation of this provision, it could not be used in criminal proceedings.

Testimony

Support: Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition, American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, Maine Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, HopeGateWay United Methodist Church in Portland

Opposition: Maine Municipal Association, Maine Chiefs of Police Association, Maine Sheriffs’ Association, Maine State Police and the Department of Public Safety

LD 448: An Act Regarding Recording of Witness Interviews

Sponsored by Rep. Thom Harnett, D-Gardiner

Current law requires that law enforcement agencies adopt written policies for the recording of interviews of suspects in serious crimes. This bill extends that requirement to include recording of interviews of witnesses.

Testimony

Support: Criminal Law Advisory Commission, Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition

Opposition: Maine Sheriffs’ Association

LD 1278: An Act To End the Maine Information Analysis Center Program

Sponsored by Rep. Charlotte Warren, D-Hallowell

This bill would eliminate funding — about $800,000 in fiscal year 2020-21 and $1 million in 2022-23 — for the Maine Information and Analysis Center. It would cut one state police sergeant position, two state police detective positions, one state police trooper position and two other positions, plus related costs. The so-called fusion center collects and shares intelligence with law enforcement agencies.

Testimony

Support: Behavioral Health Community Collaborative, Say No to NECEC, American Civil Liberties Union of Maine

Opposition: Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management, Maine Chiefs of Police Association, Maine Emergency Management Agency, Maine State Police, Maine Department of Public Safety, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Maine Sheriffs’ Association

LD 894: An Act To Increase Government Accountability by Removing the Restriction on the Dissemination of Information Regarding Investigations

Sponsored by Rep. Charlotte Warren, D-Hallowell

This bill would repeal the law that requires a criminal justice agency to refuse to confirm the existence or non-existence of confidential intelligence and investigative record information (a so-called Glomar response) if the inquiry comes from a source that is not entitled to receive the information.

Testimony

Support: Criminal Law Advisory Commission

Opposition: Maine County Commissioners Association, Maine Sheriffs’ Association

LD 132: An Act to Implement the Attorney General’s Recommendations on Data Collection in Order to Eliminate Profiling in Maine

Sponsored by Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross, D-Portland

This bill would require all law enforcement agencies to collect information — on race, color, ethnicity, gender and age — about each person stopped for a traffic violation. Police agencies would give the information to the attorney general’s office, which would send a public report on its findings to the Legislature annually.

Testimony

Support: GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders, Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition, Maine Chiefs of Police Association (qualified support), Maine Prosecutors Association, Maine Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Maine Business Immigration Coalition, American Civil Liberties Union of Maine

Opposition:

LD 375: An Act To Create Greater Accountability in the Office of County Sheriff

Sponsored by Sen. Lisa Keim, R-Dixfield

This bill would create procedures for county commissioners to file a complaint in superior court to remove a sheriff for improper, unethical or criminal behavior. If the court finds cause, it would forward the matter to the governor who would be able to place the sheriff on administrative leave with pay and consider the sheriff’s removal from office. There is currently no legal way to place a sheriff on administrative leave while he or she is being investigated.

Testimony

Support: Maine County Commissioners Association, American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, Maine Chiefs of Police Association, Maine Sheriffs’ Association

Opposition:

LD 214: An Act to Eliminate Qualified Immunity for Police Officers

Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Evangelos, I-Friendship

This bill eliminates the ability of police officers to assert a defense of qualified immunity — a judicial doctrine created by the Supreme Court that shields government employees from liability for their misconduct — for civil rights violations.

Testimony: Public hearing scheduled for 9 a.m., Thursday, April 29

LD 1416: An Act To Limit Qualified Immunity of Law Enforcement Officers in Maine Civil Rights Act Claims

Sponsored by Sen. Anne Carney, D-Cape Elizabeth

This bill removes the qualified immunity defense for law enforcement officers when their actions violate the Maine Civil Rights Act.

Testimony: Public hearing scheduled for 9 a.m., Thursday, April 29

LD 1192: An Act Concerning the Composition of the Criminal Law Advisory Commission

Sponsored by Rep. William Tuell, R-East Machias

This bill would require an officer from a statewide law enforcement agency and one from a county or municipal law enforcement agency to sit on the Criminal Law Advisory Commission, which provides analysis of criminal laws to the Legislature.

Testimony

Opposition: American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, Maine Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Criminal Law Advisory Commission

Support:

Erin Rhoda

Erin Rhoda

Erin Rhoda is the editor of Maine Focus, a team that conducts journalism investigations and projects at the Bangor Daily News. She also writes for the newspaper, often centering her work on issues of sexual...