Regarding the March 25 article “Sheriff’s office identifies Thurmont man killed in police-involved shooting,” a new law could have prevented the incident. Many residents of Frederick County are unaware of Maryland’s extreme risk protective order (ERPO) law that went into effect on Oct. 1, 2018. An ERPO can be filed against a person (the “Respondent”) who poses an immediate and present danger of causing personal injury to self or others by having firearms. An ERPO can be granted 24 hours a day, seven days a week. An ERPO orders a respondent to surrender any firearms or ammunition to law enforcement and not purchase or possess firearms or ammunition while the ERPO is in effect. If the courts are open, it may be granted by a District Court judge, and if the courts are closed by a District Court commissioner. A petition for an ERPO may be filed by a spouse; cohabitant, relative by blood, marriage, or adoption; person with child(ren) in common with the respondent; current dating or intimate partner; current or former legal guardian; law enforcement officer; or medical professional who has examined the respondent (this includes a physician, psychologist, clinical social worker, licensed clinical professional counselor, clinical nurse specialist in psychiatric and mental health nursing, psychiatric nurse practitioner, licensed clinical marriage or family therapist, or health officer or designee of a health officer who has examined the person).

In the Abraham Arellano incident in Thurmont, the filing of an ERPO could have prevented his death. His longtime girlfriend had filed and was awarded an interim protective order for domestic violence on Sunday, March 24, by the District Court commissioner. A commissioner does not have the option to order the respondent to surrender firearms in an interim protective order. Unfortunately, Mr. Arellano therefore possessed firearms that following Monday. This past Tuesday, the hearing date for the temporary Protective Order, his firearms could have been ordered to be surrendered by a District Court judge, but in this case it was just too late.

We need to make the residents of Frederick County aware of the possibility of obtaining an ERPO. An ERPO can provide further protection beyond an interim protective order for not only a victim of domestic violence’s safety, but also for the residents of Frederick County and law enforcement. It will take a collaborative effort to educate Frederick County about this valuable tool for our protection.

Blaine A. Hoffmann

Legal Director

Heartly House

Frederick

(8) comments

Dwasserba

We can take the guns away, but what to do about the mindset?

jgrose79

You are 100% correct. It's a people problem and laws wont change minds.

shiftless88

That is a distinct issue. We can jail someone without changing their mindset that they want to kill someone, but jailing them makes it harder for them to carry out their wishes. Same thing here. Just because the mindset remains does not reduce the effectiveness of removing firearms from their possession.

jgrose79

An ERPO is not going to save anyone who wants to commit a dangerous crime with a firearm or any other tool which can be used as a weapon. Just because the police show up and confiscate "all the firearms" the person has in their possession, it does not mean that "all the firearms" will be collected. The person could have firearms hidden somewhere on the property or on another persons property. The ERPO law is a complete joke. The threat is "The Person", not the firearms. The same crazy individual could use knives or a vehicle to harm others. To say that this would have saved the mans life is a complete farce and impossible to believe because the LTE writer doesn't have some magical crystal ball which predicts the future. Someone didn't report the man, so the ERPO wasn't applied, and there is the problem with the thinking behind if we make a law it will stop bad things form happening. Does the LTE writer want Pre-Crime to be prosecuted? Is this The Minority Report? The sad truth is that some people are crazy, period, and no law will protect everyone.

DickD

All true, jg, the best anyone can hope for is it will slow the insane person down.

jgrose79

Correct, and we actually agree for once. The issue I have with all these laws is when the laws are abused, and at what cost to freedom do these laws cause. We already have one man dead in Anne Arundel County due to the red flag law sparking it. For every positive from the law there can also be a major negative. With more than 2250 of these ERPO's served since the inception of the law, one has to wonder, how many people has this negatively affected and cost significant amounts of financial burden upon them through the cost of legal representation. The issue I have is the due process problems within the law. Removing a persons rights prior to being heard by a judge is the major problem. If the law would allow officers to remove the person and have them go before a judge with a legal representative in an emergency situation, I would be more inclined to support it. Until then, I have to say that I am opposed to ERPO's. It violates due process, and doesn't remove the threat.

blaine3661

A Petitioner goes in front of a Commissioner ONLY if the Courts are closed and then two business days later a Temporary hearing is heard before a District Court Judge. If the Courts are open a Petitioner goes before a Judge for a Temporary. All Temporary ERPO are then litigated again within 7 days for a Final ERPO. Because of the emergency nature ALL ERPOs are review by a Judge twice, unlike non-emergency cases.These steps have been legally determined to satisfy Due Process requirements. Furthermore, there is a right to appeal a Final ERPO, which is a requirement of Due Process.

shiftless88

Did you know that giving a ticket for speeding does not prevent that person from speeding again? So should we just stop enforcing laws? Do you really think that if a law does not prevent 100% of problems then we should not have such a law or not enforce those that exist? Please explain your rationale. To me a 50% reduction would be fantastic.

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