Legislation Is On Fast Track: Passage Sought by July 31st 2020
Governor Charles Baker announced that his administration will be filing legislation today to establish a Police Officer Standards and Training Authority for Massachusetts. Baker stated that the death of George Floyd was the impetus for his decision to move forward with this bill. In making the announcement the Governor stated that his legislation was intended to be a tool to improve police training and to identify “bad actors”. The Governor was joined in his announcement by Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, State Representative Jeffrey Sanchez, the head of the Black and Latino caucus, and State Representative Russell Holmes, who along with Representative Dave Vieira have been the two most vocal advocates of this bill for the past few years.
The new legislation would allow a newly created state commission comprised of seven police officials and seven civilians to issue and withdraw certifications from persons working as police officers within the Commonwealth. Governor Baker went on to state that there were eight actions upon which the commission could take direct action to decertify an officer. These included: the use of choke holds, commission of a felony, commission of certain misdemeanors and excessive use of force.
State Representative Russell Holmes was introduced by the Governor and he expanded upon the aims of the legislation. He emphasized the need to ensure that all police officers receive de-escalation training and implicit bias training and noted that one provision of the bill would include the capacity for citizens to access public information about a police officers’ training and conduct. There are also provisions in the legislation to address the increasing lack of diversity within policing. The State Police were specifically referenced by Holmes. Governor Baker disclosed that he is filing a new “State Police Reform Bill” that would address the issue of diversity. One way that Baker intends to do this is through the creation of a police cadet program for the state police.
Governor Baker prodded the legislature to move forward on the Police Officer Standards and Training Bill by stating that he wanted something that he could sign on his desk by the close of the current legislative session, which occurs on July 31st 2020. Representative Holmes joined the Governor in expressing his expectation that legislation on this matter would not be unnecessarily held up.
Governor’s Press Conference Link