December 2, 2020
A Foundation For Building Professional Policing In Mass
The Massachusetts Association For Professional Law Enforcement (MAPLE) supports the passage of an historic police reform bill by the Massachusetts Legislature, which establishes the “Massachusetts Peace Officers Standards And Training Commission”. The police reform bill that emerged from the Conference Committee was an improved version over bills submitted by the Governor, the Senate and the House earlier in the year. MAPLE, a longtime advocate for such a reform, submitted several recommendations to the conference committee, some of which were reflected in the bill that was reported out.
We believe that this bill will serve as a foundation for the construction of a truly professional police service in this Commonwealth. It strikes the proper balance between a centralized state-wide authority to ensure compliance with essential professional requirements; such as, truthfulness, proper restraint and ethical conduct, and the autonomy of local communities to deploy and manage their police resources as their local situation demands.
The bill also preserves the essential necessity of police officer discretion, but more clearly defines the parameters of that discretion, particularly with regard to the use of force. It does not strip away legal protections for officers under the principle of qualified immunity, but provides greater clarity regarding the conditions under which such immunity may be lost. It also mandates that officers receive regular standardized in service training, a significant countermeasure to abuse and malpractice.
While there are areas in the bill that will require further work; such as, stronger efforts to eliminate political influence within the commission, including more law enforcement expertise among the commission’s staff, the need to address higher education requirements for police officers and a stronger commitment to ensure proper funding, the Massachusetts Association For Professional Law Enforcement considers this legislation a significant achievement in the effort to elevate the prestige of the police profession in the eyes of the public and we strongly urge the Governor to sign it.