Police group drops its objections to expungement bill

April 03, 2007|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,Sun Reporter

The Fraternal Order of Police has dropped its objections to a bill that would automatically expunge the criminal records of those who are arrested but not charged with a crime, Senate leaders said, removing some of the strongest reservations about the measure in the General Assembly.

The FOP had opposed a provision of the bill that would have made it easier for people to sue the police over such arrests.

Under current law, those who are arrested but not charged can petition for expungement, but to do so they must either sign a waiver promising not to sue the police for false arrest or other claims arising from the incident, or wait three years, when the statute of limitations for such actions expires.

The bill, which passed the House of Delegates 130-9, eliminates the waiver requirement.

Bill supporters spent the weekend talking to FOP representatives about their concerns, and Sen. Brian E. Frosh, the Montgomery County Democrat who chairs the Judicial Proceedings Committee, said they dropped their objections after learning that few if any lawsuits over these arrests are being filed under current law.

Sen. Nancy Jacobs, a Republican, had been pursuing an amendment to exempt the counties she represents, Harford and Cecil, but when she learned of the FOP's change of heart, she dropped her motion.

More than 21,000 people were arrested but not charged last year in Maryland. Advocates for the proposal say the records generated as a result of the arrests hinder job searches and applications for mortgages, financial aid and other public assistance.

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