Governor Charles Baker today sent the historic and comprehensive police reform bill, passed last week by the legislature, back to Beacon Hill for more work. The Governor’s amendments would gut the training division out of the conference committee’s bill restoring the independence of the Municipal Police Training Committee (MPTC). The Mass State Police would also be freed of all outside oversight over training as well. The Governor stated in his letter to the legislature that the bill “disrupts a successful model of shared state and municipal oversight for police training by removing the Municipal Police Training Council from its current location in the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security placing all of the training under the oversight of the majority-civilian Commission.” The Governor then stated “ I do not accept the premise that civilians know best how to train police.” In other amendments, the Governor pushed for more specification for the “police officer” position on the Commission specifying that it be filled by an officer affiliated with a police union.
Limits were also set on local Internal Affairs investigations at one year with extensions for reasonable cause. The Governor’s amendments would also cap suspensions of certifications at one year and would place the responsibility for establishing use of force protocols with the MPTC not the Commission. The Governor struck the new use of force definitions included in the conference committee’s version. Gone are the legal constructs of “Imminent Harm” and “Totality of Circumstance”, which interjected a heightened scrutiny over police use of force. While the Governor endorsed the establishment of an “independent commission” to oversee police certification, he said he would not sign the bill without the alterations he outlined. This bill now goes back to the legislature. A copy of the Governor’s amendments is attached.