A controversial measure that would require police officers to receive annual training on issues pertaining to proper use of force, sensitivity to cultural and gender diversity, and training in lifesaving techniques such as CPR, is currently under consideration in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Christopher’s Law is named for Christopher Brown, the Randallstown teenager who died after a physical altercation with off-duty Baltimore County Police Officer James D. Laboard in June 2012. Laboard was acquitted of manslaughter charges in the case and has returned to work.

“This happens far too often where someone acting under the color of law takes a life,” said Del. Jill P. Carter (D-Balto.) said in an interview with the AFRO. “And so what this bill is designed to do is change the culture of policing where far too often human life is taken. It’s designed to show that we value human life to the extent that we’re willing to demand that officers are better trained.”

Primary opposition to Christopher’s Law at a Feb. 4 hearing in Annapolis came from Maryland’s police-training academy, she said.

“They believe that to dictate to them how to train and how much to train basically ties their hands and restricts them,” said Carter.

Another hearing on the measure was scheduled in the state Senate later this month, Carter said. She said House supporters of the measure are working in the state Senate with Senator C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s) “to make sure he has talking points and witnesses that we did not have during last year’s Senate cross-file when the bill passed in the House but was killed in the Senate,” she said.

Christopher’s Law will get a vote in the House at the end of the month.

The victim’s mother, Chris Brown, is doing her part to ensure the passing of the law. On Jan. 31, she paid a visit to Annapolis.

“We’ve been working with the NAACP, American Civil Liberties Union, and Moms of Murdered Sons and Daughters,” she said. “We can’t just sit back and do nothing. If you think that the world is such a terrible place, you’ve got to put effort into making it something better.”

Brown has been providing free CPR training classes in her community. On the night he skirmished with Christopher, LaBoard went door to door inquiring for someone to administer resuscitation techniques on the unconscious youth.

“…If somebody just knew CPR that night my son’s life might have been saved,” Brown said.

The proposed Christopher’s Law has companion bills that Carter said are more controversial and are met with greater opposition by the law enforcement community.

One of the companion bills would compel an officer to take an alcohol and drug test if involved in a shooting incident or vehicular accident.

“You know, pretty much just like the rest of us,” Carter said.


Enni Aigbomian

Special to the AFRO