October 23, 2018
RE: BLUE RIBBON COMMISSION FOR STATE POLICE
The scandals impacting the Massachusetts State Police are significant and should be of concern to every citizen, who values a safe and secure society. The state police play a vital role in the critical network of agencies that protect our state. Their effective performance is crucial to the effort to stem the flow of illegal drugs, combat human trafficking, interdict terrorist activity, suppress gang violence and promote highway safety. A loss of public confidence and trust in this agency will have a significant deleterious effect on all of these efforts.
The scandals besetting the state police are systemic and pervasive calling into question the agencies organizational integrity. Such scandals have beset prominent American police agencies before. While these scandals are devastating, history shows that they offer the opportunity for reform, which can restore public faith and confidence. It was the use of independent commissions that spurred the professional development of the NYPD, currently one of the finest police organizations in the world. The Lexow Commission 1894, the Knapp Commission 1970, the Mollen Commission 1990 all led to significant reform, which dramatically improved the Department’s performance and restored its public confidence. This history supports Justice Louis Brandeis’s proscription that “sunlight is the best disinfectant for corruption.”
The response to the state police scandal has been inadequate thus far. While the Governor has taken certain internal actions within the Department, including the appointment of an outside consultant, and the legislature has authorized panels to examine certain aspects of the agency, a comprehensive, independent and professional assessment needs to be done.
The Massachusetts Association For Professional Law Enforcement calls on Governor Baker to appoint a “Blue Ribbon Commission” to conduct an in depth stem to stern review of the administrative and operational practices of the Massachusetts State Police. This panel should be comprised of nationally recognized law enforcement experts, who have no ties to the Massachusetts political establishment. The Commission should conduct this inquiry in a public proceeding and have full access to any witnesses, documents or experts it deems necessary. The Commission should publish its findings, conclusions and recommendation, and its recommendations should serve as the blueprint for the reform effort.
The recent revelations concerning the Massachusetts State Police have been devastating to those who have committed themselves to preserve its fine traditions and ideals. Every effort must be made to restore the reputation of this agency. The failure to do so will have devastating effects on the safety and security of our citizens and permanently erode confidence in one of the state’s most vital police agencies.
“The law will never be respected until those who enforce it are.”