Use of Force Incident Reporting, Constable Oversight and Chapter 6E Were The Focus
The State’s Peace Officer Standards and Training Committee (POST) conducted its monthly on-line meeting on March 16th 2023 with an early 8.30AM start. No public comment was taken during this session. The focus of the meeting was the launching of the new POST portal, which will be used as the primary source of online communication between police agencies in the Commonwealth and the POST Commission. The Commission will begin to directly notify officers of their qualification and certification deadlines, however they will also copy in both chiefs and union heads to ensure redundancy in the notifications. The notifications are important because if officers miss required in-service training dates, they can be suspended until such time as they comply with the training requirements. The portal went online on March 1st . On April 15th documents will be available for police administrators to help them navigate the portal. The system will be fully operational by May 22nd. June 30th will be the deadline for this year’s in-service training. A new schedule will be issued after that date.
In addition to in-service training notifications the portal will be the primary means for police agencies to comply with the commission’s extensive use of force reporting requirements under MGL 6E9b. Agencies will be required to report all incidents in which officers are injured, a death occurs, instances of abuse of force, and any actions directed at interveners. Agencies will also be required to report these incidents to the FBI Data Center as well. The Commission also urged reporting on periods where no use of force occurred, to ensure the fullest picture of these incidents. These reporting requirements are mandated to facilitate the Commission’s own responsibility to track and report trends in unprofessional police conduct to the Legislature and the Governor.
The issue of the POST Commission’s authority over Constables was discussed. The POST Commission has determined, that because Constables can make arrests, serve warrants and use force, they fall under the oversight authority of the commission. Therefore, Constables will now be required to comply with POST regulations, whether the Constables are appointed or elected. Constables must be certified by the POST Commission and pursuant to that requirement they must submit to a background investigation to determine their “character and fitness”. If Constables are “self-sponsored”, they will have to pay out of pocket for their background checks. Constables will also have to be supervised, either by their local law enforcement agency or some other civilian authority. The law requires that all individuals, who have been granted the power of arrest and authority to use force must be supervised, and that those exercising this supervision are required to investigate complaints and investigate any use of force incidents they may be involved in. The POST Commission discussed the need to offer training in these areas to non- law enforcement civilian officials, who would oversee Constables.
( Cautionary Note: The information reported above was gleaned from monitoring the discussions that occur at the POST Commission meeting of March 16, 2023. This information should not be relied upon as the definitive position of the POST Commission. Any actions or planned actions taken or anticipated by officers and administrators should not be based solely upon this information but should be independently confirmed through the POST Commission )