Statehouse Is Formerly Introduced To M.A.P.L.E.
President Dennis Galvin, accompanied by Board member Ed Denmark, and former Vice President Al Puller, capped a two day foray to Beacon Hill, that proved to be time well spent. Galvin and Denmark went to the hill on Thursday July 11th and testified before the Joint House and Senate Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. Al Puller joined a return foray on Friday July 12th for a presentation to Senator Sonya Chang Diaz’s office, who is also a member of the joint committee.
The Joint Committee had a very busy scheduled, and a very short time to hear testimony on several bills. The hearing began sharply at 9A in conference room B-1 at the Massachusetts statehouse. The hearing was convened by House Chairman Harold P. Naughton ( D-Clinton), who served as the presiding officer. Both the President and Director Denmark testified as a panel in favor of H2146: “ A Bill To Create A Commission To Study The Implementation of a Police Officer Standards and Training System” for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. President Galvin began the presentation by stating that the police in this Commonwealth are facing unprecedented challenges from street gangs, drug cartels and terrorism. They are also dealing with a public highly sensitive to instances of police misconduct and malpractice. Galvin said that in some cases the officers that are being sent out to face these challenges may not suitable. In other cases, he added, that far too often the necessary training for them to be successful is not there. He noted that demoralization was also a factor in some departments due to unprofessional leadership and in some cases corruption.
President Galvin outlined the advantages of a POST system for the Joint Committee as follows: (1) it could provide guidance and assistance to departments in policy formulation. (2) it would establish licensing, hence a foundation for assuring competence. (3) it could remove the seriously unsuitable through de-certification, and (4) it would offer a process for tracking unsuitable candidates from re-applying for police positions after de-certification.
Director Denmark offered his experiences as Chief of both the Sterling and Harvard MA police departments, cautioning the committee not to get complacent over statistics, which may not show egregious police misconduct. He warned that there is a lack of confidence among many citizens over the competence and integrity of their police. He added that ensuring police effectiveness demands that this be addressed. Director Denmark offered POST as the means by which a community and their police force could get back “on the same page”. He noted that a POST system could help establish a common set of standards, that everyone could understand and accept. Both President Galvin and Director Denmark ended their remarks by expressing their support for H2146 urging a favorable recommendation to the legislature.
Representative Dave Vieira, a member of the committee, and sponsor of the bill, publicly thanked M.A.P.L.E. for its cooperation in assisting him in advancing this legislation. He acknowledged the “white paper” that was prepared for him by the organization. He made a passionate plea to the joint committee to support the legislation. The bill was also enthusiastically supported by Lane Glenn, the President of Northern Essex community college. A representative from MA COPS registered a pro-forma objection to the legislation. Chairman Naughton personally thanked M.A.P.L.E. for its input. ( Note a copy of MAPLE’s formal written remarks, which were entered into the record, is attached to this message).
The committee heard testimony on a variety of other bills affecting both the police and prisons.
The committee took testimony on the following pending police related bills: H2062, sponsored by Representatives Ferguson and Tucker would provide autism training to police officers. H2068 sponsored by Representative Carmine Gentile would create Independent Police Review Boards. H2119 sponsored by Representative Denise Provost would require civilian oversight of all purchases of surplus military equipment by police departments. H2120 also sponsored by Representative Denise Provost would establish uniformed rules and regulations governing the implementation of body cameras for police departments. H2140 sponsored by Representative Paul Tucker would expand awareness of an increasing risk of suicide among police officers. H3810 sponsored by Representative Paul Tucker would establish minimum educational requirements for police officers, and S1465 sponsored by Senator Dean Tran would create a building assistance fund to help municipalities fund the construction of public safety facilities in their communities.
The following day, Al Puller joined both Dennis Galvin and Ed Denmark for a meeting with Maia Raynor, Senator Diaz’s Legislative Aide. The M.A.P.L.E. delegation engaged Raynor in an extended conversation regarding the benefits of a POST study commission. This discussion bore fruit. Ms Raynor has subsequently contacted M.A.P.L.E. stating that Senator Diaz will support H2146.