Sen. Barbara Mikulski was in Sandtown Monday to talk with clergy about criminal justice reforms at the federal level, and discussed measures being considered in the Senate aimed at strengthening police-community relations.
Mikulski is the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations committee. That committee gave approval last week to a spending bill that includes initiatives Mikulski thinks can improve policing. She said the protests following the death of Freddie Gray from injuries sustained in police custodies put light to a problem that exists in communities across the nation.
“It is a Baltimore problem and it is a national problem that there is a trust gap between the people and the police department,” Mikulski said.
The reforms would require local police departments applying for federal grants to outline what kind of training officers get in use of force, identifying racial and ethnic bias, and de-escalating conflicts. There are also measures to fund community policing programs and body cameras, and to improve department reporting of officer involved shootings.
The spending bill still needs approval by the full Senate and the House. Mikulski and Sen. Ben Cardin plan to introduce a more sweeping criminal justice reform bill later this week.