Resolutions Passed On Police Education, Training and Mental Health
MAPLE President Dennis Galvin announced a potential merger between the Massachusetts Association For Professional Law Enforcment (MAPLE) and the Massachusetts Association Of Criminal Justice Educators (MACJE). The announcement came at MAPLE’s fall general membership meeting held December 18, 2019 at Stonehill College in Easton MA. Galvin disclosed that he had reached a tentative agreement with MACJE head Jason Paynich, a professor at Quincy Junior College, to allow MACJE members to join MAPLE. The merger was approved by MAPLE’s Board of Directors with certain stipulations. The merger would be contingent upon the transfer of MACJE funds to MAPLE, at which time Paynich and his group would become full MAPLE members. Additionally, MAPLE would retain the authority to require each new member to complete an application form, which would be reviewed by a MAPLE committee, to guide the Board on acceptance of the new members. Dues would be waived for one year for each former MACJE member accepted into MAPLE. Galvin stated that this merger would dramatically expand MAPLE’s reach, extending it into college campuses and universities that host criminal justice programs, and would give the organization a significant financial boost.
Concerns were raised as to the qualification of the new members. Two MAPLE members, who were former affiliates with MACJE said that they believed most of the members, who would choose to join MAPLE, would likely fit the current membership requirements. They added that MACJE’s focus was a bit broader than police reform, and it was their belief that members, who were not interested in policing, would probably not join. Questions were raised over the authority to authorize the merger. President Galvin said that the merger did not require MAPLE to change any of its bylaws or rules of procedure so there was no requirement to bring the matter to the general membership for ratification. Additionally, there was no change to the Articles of Organization. Under the bylaws and rules of procedure, the MAPLE Board of Directors has exclusive authority over membership qualifications and eligibility. Galvin added that the merger is scheduled to take place in early 2020.
The MAPLE general membership proceeded to pass several resolutions, perhaps the most controversial was the endorsement of a requirement that an “associates degree” be established as a pre-hire qualification for appointment as a police officer. Citing the complexity of modern day policing and the importance of a broader base of knowledge beyond that provided by basic police training, the general membership specified, that a “minimum of 18 credit hours of core Criminal Justice study should be mandatory for all police candidates. While MAPLE was willing to grant some transference of relevant training and experience, for the overall degree, it rejected a policy that would allow such experience to replace core academic requirements.
MAPLE also voted to call on the legislature to “take immediate action to rectify deficiencies” identified in the state’s municipal police training program, which were highlighted in a recent report by the state auditor. MAPLE called for the legislature to “ take immediate action to increase the budget” of the Municipal Police Training Council, to allow it to significantly upscale training. MAPLE specifically called for the implementation of simulated use of force training, establishing it as an annual requirement. Lastly, the general membership called on the legislature to provide funding for mental health services for police officers, which would be made available 24/7 to any police officer in the Commonwealth, at state expense. The increasing incidents of suicides among police officers were cited as compelling evidence that police officers are under serious stress, and that the Commonwealth has an obligation to support them.
Several members were recognized for their contribution to MAPLE’s mission over the course of the year. Members Al Puller, Mark Archer and Ed Denmark received commendations for their participation in a MAPLE video presentation called “Black and Blue” in which they shared their valuable experiences of being both African American and police officers. Members Mike Conti, Marcel Beausoleil and Al Puller received commendations for their participation in a symposium held at Fitchburg State University where they made presentations on the “use of force” and “threshold inquiries” by police officers, both very relevant and controversial subjects. The presentations have been very well received.
In other business, President Galvin announced that MAPLE has been asked to submit language to the legislature calling for the establishment of a legislative commission to investigate the Massachusetts State Police. Galvin reminded the members that the call for an outside “blue ribbon ”commission has long been one of MAPLE’s core reform objectives. MAPLE Director Ed Denmark announced his intention call for the establishment of a strategic planning committee within MAPLE. The committee would be responsible for identifying emerging trends and issues expected to impact policing over the coming years, and to develop policy recommendations to respond to them.
In addition to the MACJE merger, President Galvin recognized new members during the meeting. These included Christine Cole, the Executive Director of the Criminal Justice Institute, a person with extensive police policy and research experience, Chief Frank Frederickson of the Yarmouth Police, an outspoken defender of police officers and their mission, and Mike Pavone, a retired Mass State Police Lieutenant and former State Police Internal Affairs Investigator, who is now working as a private consultant assisting municipal departments on matters of internal governance. Those who have passed on were also remembered, a moment of silence was observed to recognize former MAPLE members Paul Matthews, Robert Cerra and William Coulter.