Reform Group Offers Changes To Pending Police Reform Bills
The Massachusetts Association for Professional Law Enforcement (MAPLE), a statewide police reform group comprised of current, former and retired police officers and criminal justice educators, released its recommendations for comprehensive police reform in Massachusetts today. The organization endorsed the general concepts presented in recent legislative offerings by both the Governor and the Massachusetts State Senate which include: the establishment of a Police Officer Standards and Training Accreditation Committee to promulgate standards and licensing for police officers. The Committee would also have the authority to de-certify officers, who engage in serious misconduct. MAPLE has long advocated for such an authority in Massachusetts.
MAPLE went further however in several areas. It suggested the establishment of three member panels, comprised of knowledgeable and trained hearings officers to adjudicate cases involving de-certification, and it called for the establishment of an Associate’s Degree as a hiring requirement for police officers with advanced degrees for promotional eligibility. The organization recommended leaving “Qualified Immunity” protections intact, and called for the Massachusetts State Police to come under the full authority of the Accreditation Committee.
President Dennis Galvin said that MAPLE’s recommendations also offer more specificity with regard to eligibility for appointment to the Accreditation Committee, to ensure competence. Under MAPLE’s plan, the committee would include one representative from the following: The Colonel of the State Police, the Boston Police Commissioner, the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, the Massachusetts Major City Police Chiefs Association, a statewide police union, the Massachusetts Minority Police Officers Association, the Attorney General’s office, the District Attorneys Association, the ACLU, the NAACP, the Committee For Public Counsel, the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, and a retired Justice from either the Superior or District Court. This committee would promulgate regulations governing how police work is to be conducted in the state and would shape officer training.
Other reforms endorsed by MAPLE include the de-certification of police officers for certain designated offenses. Police officer’s engaging in abuse of physical force, criminal activity or the falsification of official reports could de-certified, if the allegations against them are sustained. In such cases, they would no longer be able to work in the Commonwealth. The process would bypass civil service. MAPLE strongly urged that those serving as panel members hearing such cases be selected and trained by the Accreditation Committee, and that all de-certification hearings be conducted consistent with the principles of “Just Cause.” Hearings should also be public.
MAPLE President Dennis Galvin stated that “the perceptions surrounding police reform are important. Both the public and the police have to buy into them. If this doesn’t occur the reform will fail, either due to a loss of public confidence or through the erosion of police morale. The final legislation must be perceived as both competent and as free of bias as possible.”
(Note of Copy of MAPLE’s Legal Review Is Attached)