MAPLE seeks to Engage Legislature to Help Shape Reform
In the wake of the tragic and horrific death of George Floyd in Minneapolis MN, the iron for police reform has become red hot. State political figures are now moving rapidly to address issues involving police brutality and accountability. President Trump, Governor Baker and House Speaker Robert DeLeo are now on the public record pledging their commitment toward police reform. The focus of this effort in Massachusetts is now centering on the establishment of a Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) authority, which could establish certification requirements for those seeking to perform work as police officers. These requirements would address both training and conduct.
MAPLE has been a long time supporter of legislation that would establish a commission to study the implementation of a POST system in Massachusetts. While this legislation has been favorably reported out of committee for at least two sessions, it has died waiting to come to the floor of both the House and Senate. This year, the bill’s sponsor, state representative Dave Vieira, did not file the bill. Vieira informed MAPLE that the matter had been taken up by a working group in the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. He was hopeful that something might come forward this session. He advised that if this was not the case, he would refile his bill in the next session. MAPLE has attempted to reach out to Secretary Turco’s office to seek engagement with this working group, but has yet to receive a response.
During a meeting of the Board of Director’s held Monday night, approval was given to a proposal for MAPLE to craft its own version of a POST bill. The Strategic Planning Committee, chaired by Ed Denmark was tasked with this challenge. The committee will draft the specifics of a model POST system for review and approval by the full membership. Any member of MAPLE that is interested in participating in this effort should contact the editor. The final version of this model will be submitted to the legislature.
Approval was also given to a press release that acknowledged the contribution of the Black and Latino caucus for their efforts at keeping the issue of police reform alive on Beacon Hill. It has largely been their collective advocacy that has put this matter on the public agenda. The press release also calls for the Governor and the legislature to institute a transparent and inclusive process for developing the specifics of a POST bill.
In other business, the Board of Directors unanimously approved the memberships of Brian Ohara, a retired state police Lieutenant and recognized forensic expert, and Richard T Griffin a retired member of the Waltham Police Department and former security director of the Massachusetts State Lottery.
POLICE REFORM GROUP SUPPORTS LEGISLATIVE ACTION TO REFORM POLICE
Will A Tragic Death Open Door To Improving Policing?
The Massachusetts Association For Professional Law Enforcement (MAPLE) wishes to express our full support for the commitment made by Governor and the Legislative leadership to move forward with an initiative to establish a state wide oversight authority for the police in Massachusetts. We also wish to recognize the Black and Latino caucus, and state representatives David Vieira and Russell Holmes for their sustained commitment toward keeping the discussion on police reform alive within the state legislature.
MAPLE, an organization of current, former and retired police officers and criminal justice administrators, has been advocating for such a state wide police oversight authority for the past four years. We wish to express our deepest regret that it has taken the death of George Floyd to spark wider interest on this issue. It is our belief that if meaningful reform can result from the tragedy of Mr. Floyd’s death, his loss would not have been in vain.
As we stand on the threshold of such a reform effort, we believe that it is absolutely essential to declare the parameters that should guide this effort. While the need for reform is urgent, inclusiveness and transparency are absolutely essential for any credible effort. Representatives of the police service, minority communities, the legal community, recognized policing experts and interested citizens at large must all be given a fair and equal opportunity to participate in this discussion. The police are an institution that impacts everyone. The process of developing recommendations must be advanced by a fact-finding process, which would allow for an opportunity for all interested parties to share information and perspective with those, who will ultimately be responsible for developing the final recommendations. The establishment of a study commission is a critical first step.
The police are a vital government institution. Their actions and conduct must be brought into conformance with the constitutional expectation that government exists to preserve the “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” of all our citizens. This should be the charge of the reform effort, and its ultimate measure of success. The goal to be achieved is to reform policing so that it is safer, more effective and fully compliant with constitutional standards. Anything less would be failure.
Massachusetts Association For Professional Law Enforcement