Law enforcement across the state of Maryland is now having to deal with the insanity that has been caused by many of our anti-police and soft on crime lawmakers out of Annapolis. The state of Maryland has now joined the other insane places like New York, L.A., Chicago, Seattle, Portland and even Washington, D.C. Many of you may not know what they have done, not only to our officers but also to the laws they enforced to keep you and your property safe.
Prior to Oct. 1, a juvenile under the age of 7 years old could not be arrested or charged for a crime in Maryland. Juveniles 7 and older could be.
If they committed a serious crime, it was up to the local state’s attorney if they were tried as an adult. Those cases most of the time involved older juveniles, 13 and above, for things like murder, rape and robbery.
Less serious crimes went to Juvenile Court if Juvenile Services and the state’s attorney agreed. Juveniles found guilty or delinquent in Juvenile Circuit Court could receive sentences from probation, home detention, detention in a juvenile facility and other things like community service and counseling. If there were any damages or restitution, the court could require the parents to pay that or face jail time themselves.
Really, only the serious crimes and repeat offenders saw the inside of a court room; most of the time the juvenile was seen by a Juvenile Services officer, was counseled and warned not to commit any further acts or he could face a court hearing.
Well, the wisdom of the Annapolis Law Makers has blown all of that to h---. The age now for a juvenile to not be charged with any crime is under 10 years old!
Furthermore, any juvenile under the age of 13 cannot be charged with a crime also, unless it is a crime of violence. That means crimes like theft, car theft, burglary, vandalism, arson, drug dealing, having a handgun or other deadly weapon, trespassing, disorderly conduct, failure to obey a police officer, and even crimes that are non-violent felonies and the list goes on and on.
If you can think of a crime and it is not a crime of violence, then they cannot be charged … period! This also includes simple assault since the lawmakers do not think that is even a crime of violence.
The police will just turn the juvenile over to the parents and there are no consequences for their criminal behavior. If your property is lost, damaged or destroyed you will have to sue their parents since there will now be no court hearing for the parents to be ordered to give you restitution.
This will make you a victim a second time, cost you money and make your insurance go up if you have coverage on the property stolen or damaged. The very worst case is where a juvenile under the age of 10 murders or kills someone and they cannot be charged.
These new laws are already seeing crime out of control within just a few weeks that it has been law. I am aware of a juvenile in Dorchester County who stole 11 motor vehicles and was released without charges.
Another with a loaded handgun, released without charges. In Wicomico County, a teacher was assaulted by a 12-year-old student at school, and since it was simple assault, the juvenile was not charged.
There will be more and more horror stories in the weeks and months ahead. What we are seeing is that gangs and adult criminals are recruiting these juveniles to do crimes on their behalf and training them not to say anything because nothing can be done to them.
They will be used to help with drug dealing, theft rings and even carrying the guns and drugs of the adult criminals because nothing will happen to them if they are caught. They may even put them up to doing murders.
Part of the new law also is that the police cannot question any juvenile under the age of 18 anymore without an attorney being present there for them. The juvenile’s parents cannot waive that right either, so they cannot make their child talk to or help the police.
Even if they tell the police who they were carrying the drugs or guns for, it may not be able to be used in court against the adult if the juvenile did not have an attorney present there for them. What is happening is that we are now raising children to be career criminals because they will learn that nothing will happen to them, even into their adulthood.
That is when they will most likely run into the criminal justice system, because that will be all that they know, and it will be too late for them. These new laws have tied the hands of your police officers into doing nothing for you but giving you the bad news that nothing can be done. The politician that introduced this law and got it passed has stated that the police can still do something … the police can do a referral to Social Services to get the juvenile counseling. That is right, if a 9-year-old commits murder, he or she gets counseling.
You may ask what can be done about this. Well, we all must make Annapolis reverse what it has done and see that we are causing our children to grow up without any morals.
Call, write or email your local state delegates or senators. Talk to your local city councils and county councils and let them know that you are upset about these new laws and most of all support your police, deputies and troopers.
Talk to your friends and family and get them involved also. Many of these lawmakers in Annapolis are already beginning to hear and feel what they did is wrong. They are also hearing from almost all the local state’s attorneys and your law enforcement leaders that these changes are wrong and have and will increase crime and that children will be used by criminals. The sad part is the next Legislative Session is not until January of 2024 and therefore this might not be undone until the middle of next year.
The Fraternal Order of Police, Maryland State Lodge, and many of the nearly 80 local F.O.P. Lodges across the state of Maryland are fighting many of these stupid laws and rules that have been imposed upon our citizens and our law enforcement by those in Annapolis.
We hope you will support us in this fight because we care about it and you. Contact your local FOP Lodge and offer your support.
Your voice counts and should be heard and now is the time to speak up because the world is going insane and we must stop it if we can. I never thought that we would see this on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, but it has come here now and found us and now is not the time to be silent.
I hope that we can count on your help to change this because we need it and it’s only going to get worse if we do nothing.
The author is president of Fraternal Order of Police Cambridge-Dorchester Lodge #27, Inc. He retired in 2018 from the Cambridge Police Department as a sergeant after 30 years of service.