OCEAN CITY – Governor Martin O’Malley this week named Ocean
City Police Chief Bernadette DiPino to the Maryland Commission on Capital
Punishment, a diverse 22-member body charged with exploring the state’s death
penalty policy and making a recommendation to the General Assembly on the
controversial issue in December.
DiPino was chosen for
the commission because she is the incoming president of the Maryland Chiefs of
Police Association and the governor desired having law enforcement represented
on the panel. Former U.S. Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti will serve as
chairman of the 22-member commission, which represents a cross-section of the
community from attorneys and law enforcement officials to social workers and
clergy and from the families of victims of capital crimes to those formerly
accused and later exonerated.
In 1972, the Supreme Court abolished the death penalty across the nation
but restored it four years later in 1976 holding that states be given
discretion to enact their own statutes. After more than 30 years without an
execution in Maryland, convicted murderer John Thanos, whose killing spree
extended to Worcester County, was executed in May 1994, becoming the first person
to be executed under Maryland new capital punishment statute. Including Thanos,
there have been five executions in Maryland
since 1994 and there are currently five convicted criminals on death row in the
DiPino said this week she was pleased to represent the Maryland Chiefs of
Police on the state’s death penalty commission and looked forward to tackling
the complex and controversial issue.
“I’m honored to be chosen to serve on this important panel,” she said.
“They were looking for a voice from law enforcement on the commission and I
guess I was the logical candidate as president of the Chiefs Association. We’re
grateful the governor’s office gave us a seat at the table on this important
issue. From a law enforcement standpoint, we don’t normally sit in on debates
about the prosecution side.”
DiPino said the commission is charged with exploring all angles of the
death penalty issue and will make recommendations to the General Assembly prior
to their next session.
“The death penalty is a very personal issue and I do have my own opinions,
but my opinions are secondary to the opinions of the chiefs association,” she
said. “My role is to listen, speak at the meetings and bring back information
to the chiefs association, which will likely take a formal stance on the issue
at some point.”