After lengthy debate Tuesday, the Maryland Senate advanced a bill giving the Maryland Attorney General’s Office the power to do prosecutions of police-involved killings.

Two years ago, the General Assembly created within the attorney general’s office the Independent Investigations Division, which now does the investigations into police-involved killings in Maryland.

And bill sponsor state Sen. Will Smith of Montgomery County says allowing the office to do the prosecutions is the next step. He says the working relationship between state’s attorneys and law enforcement officers in their respective counties is too close to ensure impartiality, noting federal authorities do something similar right now.

“It’s done in civil rights cases, money laundering cases, RICO cases, white collar cases and with other complex litigation,” Smith told his colleagues on the Senate floor. “So this is not a novel concept. The conflict [of interest] exists when you have a strong working relationship with the subject of an investigation.”

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