General Meeting Report
General Membership Approves Rule Changes And Issues Statement On Police Reform
The Massachusetts Association For Professional Law Enforcement held its 13th general membership meeting at the Fruitlands Museum in Harvard MA on Tuesday June 8th 2021. The meeting kicked off MAPLE’s fifth anniversary year, which will be celebrated in the fall. Toping the list of business was the tally of votes, and the announcement of election results for the MAPLE Board of Directors. President Galvin, Vice President Champagne and Treasurer Rose were unopposed, while the Secretary’s seat, formerly held by Bob Murphy, went unfilled. However, a competitive race for five seats on the Board of Directors ended with an interesting and pleasant result. The six person race, which included incumbent board members Kathy Dennehy, Anne Marie Rocheleau, Ed Denmark, Jason Paynich,Al Puller and challenger Ed Cronin, ended up with two contenders tied for the fifth spot. Because the by-laws require a nine-member Board, and the secretary’s position was vacant, member Anne Marie Mires moved that all six members should be allowed to serve on the board. The motion was seconded and was unanimously approved by the 25 members present at the meeting.
Lisa Lane McCarthy, the Academic Director of the Policing program at Fitchburg State University, along with Doctor David Weiss, the Adamic Coordinator and Officer Steve Mucci of the Sterling Police were featured guests during the meeting. Director Lane gave an overview of the program, which has gained considerable traction. Students graduate from the five-year program with a Masters Degree. The record of job placements has been very favorable. Both Massachusetts and New Hampshire Police Departments are drawing from the graduate pool.
Chief Ed Denmark, who announced his retirement at the meeting, presented an overview of the Breona Taylor shooting incident in Louisville Kentucky. Ed was a part of a management review team that examined the incident from a policy and training perspective. He reported that there were oversight breakdowns in the no-knock search warrant application process, that contributed to the incident, which led to Taylor’s death. He also commented on the incredible pressure that minority officers face when these types of incidents occur. His team interviewed several members of the department. He reported that the minority officers were viewed with suspicion and hostility from both their fellow white police officers and the members of the black community. He offered that this issue needs to be examined with regard to the recruiting of minority officers.
The general membership gave unanimous approval to a rules change. There was some controversy over a General Meeting decision last fall to completely bar elected officials from membership. During the intervening months, the Board of Directors examined the question and came back with a proposed change to rule 6.4. The change would allow elected municipal officials, “who are not involved in the direct supervision of a public safety or law enforcement organization” to apply for and hold membership in the organization. After some discussion the motion passed unanimously.
The membership unanimously agreed to issue a statement entitled “Police Reform: A matter of Justice.” The statement highlights the need for police reform to be taken seriously by the public, policy leadership, and the police themselves, and warns that there will be significant consequences if this need continues to be ignored. The statement is attached to this article.
In other business, President Galvin informed the membership that two legislative commissions have been established by the House of Representatives under the new Police Officer Standards and Training Law. One of these will study and recommend policies for police hiring; the other will offer recommendations regarding “Qualified Immunity”. The membership was informed that the Standards committee has been charged with preparing MAPLE’s recommendations with regard to police hiring. A motion to grant authority to the President to form an ad hoc committee to prepare a position on Qualified Immunity was voted favorably by the meeting.
Both positions must be prepared and submitted by September of this year. The President also offered the Treasurer’s report. Since last general membership meeting in October of last year, $5,240. in revenue has been taken in ( which includes carryover funds), $2500 was spent on organizational needs and contingencies, leaving a balance of $2740. Every member received a well-stocked box lunch and there was plenty of good discussion and swapping of stories. It is MAPLE’s hope to return to Stonehill college for the fall general meeting, now that the COVID19 restrictions have been lifted.
Special Feature: Follow-up On A Previous Report
SOMETIMES THE GOOD GUYS WIN!
Tyngsborough Voters Unseat Top Critic of Chief’s Effort To Clean Up His Department
Tyngsborough police chief Richard Howe may be the unofficial winner of Tyngsborough’s recent municipal election. Katerina Kalabokis and Eric Eldridge won seats on the select board, while Howe’s chief antagonist Selectmen David Robeson was sent packing by town voters. Chief Howe is facing critical challenges. One of his patrolman, Dan Whitman, is facing federal gun charges. Lt Shaun Wagner is facing an investigation for misuse of union funds and Sgt Mark Bourque has been charged with conspiracy to sell illegal drugs. Robeson relentlessly criticized Howe for conducting internal investigations into these matters. He was often supported by select board members Hillari Wennerstraum and Rick Reault. However now that Robeson has been ousted, Kalabokis and Eldridge are expected to ally with select board member Ron Keohane in support of the Chief’s efforts at reform.