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Del. Cluster: Does Annapolis Have the Criminal's Back or Yours?

The Maryland legislature gives criminals more rights and, at the same time, strips law abiding citizens of their rights.

Over the last couple weeks, we have seen an in our neighborhoods, and as a retired sergeant from the Baltimore County Police Department, I am always on the alert to legislation that affects the
criminal justice system and the law abiding citizens of Maryland.

These past several years I have seen a disturbing trend: the Maryland legislature gives criminals more rights and, at the same time, strips law abiding citizens of their rights. I want to take some time in this article to go over some of the bad pieces of legislation that passed last year and more bad pieces of legislation that are being considered this year, relating to crime and the criminal justice system.

Last year in Annapolis, the Democratic majority passed legislation that allowed persons with a sentence of life in prison, which includes about 2,500 murderers and rapists, the right to parole after a certain period of time. They also gave people that are in the United States illegally the right to in-state
tuition. Another piece of legislation that thankfully failed was legislation that would stop a business owner from checking the criminal backgrounds of persons they want to hire.

This year, the trend continues to help the criminals of Maryland. There is legislation filed that would not allow the police to charge a person with first-degree murder, but with a lesser charge, if that person was not the actual person who physically committed the crime. This would greatly impact the way we handle crimes like we saw happen in , where four individuals were just . Under this legislation only one of these individuals could be charged with first-degree murder, even though all four were involved in planning the crime.

Another piece of legislation under consideration would not allow a district court commissioner to issue a warrant for the arrest of any individual if the application is requested by any ordinary citizen like you or me, for a misdemeanor crime. Police don't witness every crime and citizens help police in our
communities. Not allowing citizens to petition the court will lead to more petty criminals not being brought to justice and make the police work harder to get them off the streets.

A third piece of legislation we are hearing is to issue citations, just like a traffic ticket, to persons who commit crimes like theft, destruction of property, etc., and in some case domestic violence, instead of the police arresting that suspect. Can you imagine the police not arresting a spouse who just committed certain acts of domestic violence, but being given a ticket and not removing them from the house of the victim? I know from my years of police work that this will lead to more violence and even more severe crimes.

We, the law abiding citizens, need to stand up and speak out and say enough is enough and tell our legislators that we will not stand for the shenanigans going on in Annapolis any longer. We need to tell the legislators it's about time to take care of the needs of those who obey the law and not those who break the law.

If you are interested and want to read more about the goings on in Annapolis, please contact me at john.cluster@house.state.md.us or go on my website at www.johncluster.com.

Del. John Cluster is a retired sergeant from the Baltimore County Police Department who had worked in the patrol division and detective division, as well as running the SWAT team in Baltimore County. He currently represents Legislative District 8, covering parts of Parkville, Perry Hall, Carney, Overlea and Rosedale communities.

Paul Amirault February 15, 2012 at 01:18 AM
House Bill 95 filed 2, delegates (6) A COMMISSIONER MAY NOT ISSUE AN ARREST WARRANT BASED SOLELY ON AN APPLICATION FOR STATEMENT OF CHARGES FILED BY A PERSON OTHER THAN A PEACE OFFICER OR STATE’S ATTORNEY. Delegate is accurate here, but I disagree with him. If you need to arrest someone by going to court, bring a police officer with you. This could result in many false accusations. Dial 911 and get a cop.
Paul Amirault February 15, 2012 at 01:24 AM
HB 119 last one about citations, hearing cancelled no bill available. Now Marty, if the Delegate had provided us Bill numbers you and I would have a lot less to disagree about. With all due respect to the Delegate as he was a long term police officer of which I respect every bit of that job. He could have written his post much better.
Marty Warren February 15, 2012 at 01:37 AM
Got it. Thanks for the info
Greg Redmer February 15, 2012 at 04:01 PM
The point is Paul if the police did not witness the misdemeanor offense they can't go to the commissioners office. It's up to the victim to swear out a warrant or summons. If by law the victim can't then misdemeanors will go uncharged.
Paul Amirault February 15, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Greg, I understand your point. My concern is what % of false arrests are you willing to tolerate? Can't unring that bell. I'm a believer if you need the person arrested, dial 911.

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