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Protesters are demanding police reform, and local lawmakers may give it to them

Some are even considering "defunding" police departments, but probably not to the extent that some in the Black Live Matter movement are pushing.

WASHINGTON — The protests that have swept the nation fighting police brutality could potentially bring sweeping police reforms. Lawmakers in D.C, Maryland and Virginia are all proposing significant changes to ban violent police tactics and offer more accountability.

Some are even considering protesters' demands to defund the police. But that does not mean police budgets will go to zero.

RELATED: DC to discuss emergency legislation to reform police department after cries to 'defund police'

On Tuesday, D.C. councilmembers are slated to take up emergency legislation authored by Judiciary Chair Charles Allen to ban chokeholds, release body cam recordings, and beef up the Office of Police Complaints.

"Our ears are wide open in regards to accountability," D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said. 

But the DC Police Union called Councilmember Allen's plan rushed, said it erodes many of the rights of police officers, and sets the city on a "dangerous path to unchecked violence."

RELATED: Here's what defunding police could mean in DC

In Virginia, the Attorney General is asking Congress to give him the power to investigate police departments for a pattern and practice of discriminatory policing. Attorney General Mark Herring said police should focus on crime and leave things like mental health crises and school discipline to experts in those fields. 

"I think we need to reimagine how we accomplish our public safety goals," Herring said. "We ask our law enforcement right now to be social workers and mental health workers when somebody is having a crisis. We ask them to be school discipline officers… We ask them to be addiction specialists. When these functions could be better done by other professionals." 

In Maryland, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, an African-American veteran of the Iraq War, is proposing changes that have languished for years, including banning chokeholds, releasing disciplinary records, and prohibiting the purchase of military equipment.

"If you are an officer that is adhering to the policies and procedures and have a good heart and you’re giving real public service, then none of the measures I’m talking about will infringe on that," Sen. William Smith Jr. (D-Silver Spring, Takoma Park) said. "Greater transparency will ultimately result in greater trust in these communities." 

Some of these reforms have failed before in Maryland, due to opposition from the state Fraternal Order of Police. But Mike Young, the state FOP's lobbyist in Annapolis, said he is eager to talk to lawmakers about reforms.

RELATED: DC Police won't be able to use neck restraints or criminalize masks under new legislation

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