We the members of the Massachusetts Association for Professional Law Enforcement, an organization formed on November 1, 2016, and comprised of former and current law enforcement officers and others interested in improving the quality of policing in our Commonwealth and our Nation, feel compelled to express certain basic concepts and principles that we believe, based on our collective experience, must be adhered to, for the improvement in the quality and effectiveness of American Law Enforcement.
WHEREAS: The rule of law is indispensable to the preservation of a free and stable society.
WHEREAS: American Law Enforcement officers are principally charged with the fundamental responsibility for enforcing Federal laws, state laws, county and municipal ordinances
WHEREAS: In recent times, American Law Enforcement officers have become the focus of much criticism and concern, which if not addressed could significantly undermine respect for the law.
THAT: The nation’s police service is an indispensable and central element in society’s effort to maintain stability and administer justice. Police conduct and effectiveness is inevitably affected by the competence and integrity of the overarching political authority.
THAT: Policing is above all a shared responsibility. Citizens must share responsibility for promoting he safety of their own communities, by obeying and supporting the law and cooperating with the police. The police have a leadership role to play in this relationship. Police officers must lead through their example. A society will not have respect for the law if it does not have respect for those who enforce it.
THAT: The right to “equal protection under the law” mandates that every person and every area of this nation is entitled to receive the highest quality policing possible. Therefore the police can never relinquish their authority or responsibility for protecting any neighborhood, street or district because of the threat of confrontation or violence. To do so is to allow lawlessness to rule.
THAT: Police officers must be able to provide and render consistently high quality service to all persons with whom they come in contact. Police work requires that officers have the emotional, physical and mental aptitude to perform under rigorous and challenging conditions. It is the first responsibility of the appointing authority to select candidates for appointment who possess these abilities.
THAT: The complex legal, social and technical nature of modern day policing demands that all police officers receive appropriate academic preparation prior to their appointment for basic police training. Basic police training must be focused, challenging and primarily hands on with rigorous adherence to standards and qualifications. The full granting of police authority must be dependent upon the successful completion of basic training requirements.
THAT: By its very nature, policing involves confronting elements within society that may be violent. It is essential that officers receive proper and continuous guidance and training in order to respond to these situations. Officers must always retain the authority to defend themselves or others from death or serious bodily injury.
THAT: Every police agency must have policies and procedures that provide clear direction. Officers, including supervisors, must be held accountable for adherence to these policies and procedures. Fair, timely and transparent processes should be established for adjudicating officers accused of violations.
Every complaint made by a citizen against the conduct or actions of a police officer must be investigated and the outcome documented and disclosed.
THAT: The use of profiling to initiate police actions based solely on race, color, creed, gender, national origin or sexual orientation is unjustifiable and must always be regarded as a prohibited practice.
STATEMENT ON SANCTUARY CITIES Issued March 6, 2017
The Massachusetts Association For Professional Law Enforcement acknowledges, that the issue of immigration is a critical foreign and domestic issue, bearing directly upon the ability to maintain order and security in American communities. Experience has shown that the vast majority of undocumented immigrants entering this country are often escaping conditions of extreme poverty, violence and social chaos. Some of these individuals seek to exploit our system, engaging in both criminal and terrorist activities. Immigration enforcement is a matter in which local law enforcement agencies should have wide discretion, however, we feel compelled to emphasize, that the police profession’s first responsibility is to protect the innocent from criminal exploitation and attack. Upholding the law is integral to that responsibility. Therefore, we do not support any local policy, that intentionally seeks to interfere with or obstruct the ability of any federal, state or local law enforcement agency to identify and remove from the American populace, individuals, who by their backgrounds or actions, pose a threat to the safety and security of our citizens or other law abiding persons.
MASSACHUSETTS ASSOCIATION FOR PROFESSIONAL LAW ENFORCEMENT
(Adopted Nov. 7, 2017)
1. That a statewide agency be established to develop, institute and enforce standards to govern police selection, training, conduct and promotion. This agency should be principally responsible for researching and developing best practices to improve the police service within the Commonwealth.
2. That the statewide agency should have the authority to certify and decertify persons employed as police officers within the Commonwealth; provided, that due process is provided for all actions involving decertification, and that such action may only be applied to cases involving (1) criminal activity (2) gross and repeated incompetence (3) credibility/integrity issues and (4) issues involving physical, emotional or mental fitness for duty.
3. That the statewide agency develop accredited academic programs required as a pre-requisite for eligibility for appointment as a police officer and for promotions.
4. That all persons selected for appointment as Police Officers in Massachusetts attend and successfully complete a certified Basic Police Training Program prior to their actual appointment. Appointment is conditional upon successful completion.
5. That Basic Police Training be utilized as a process for testing candidates for suitability as police officers, as well as, imparting necessary skills and practices.
6. That use of force training programs be developed that are interactive, realistically based and focused on appropriate stress inoculation techniques intended to improve a police officer’s capability to respond appropriately in use of force situations.
7. That newly appointed police officers should undergo a probationary period in which they receive one on one field training by an experienced and certified field training officer, successful completion of this training must be a requirement for final appointment.
8. All discipline shall follow the seven principles of “Just Cause” which are as follows:
Prior notice of all policies and procedures before action is initiated
Policies and procedures for which the officer is liable must be reasonably related to the necessary and efficient operation of the department
Allegations of infractions must be thoroughly investigated
Allegations of infractions must be fairly investigated
Minimum level of proof for allegations must rise to “sufficient or substantial evidence” to support the decision
Application of rules and regulations must be done equally, not arbitrarily or capriciously
Punishment must be suitable to the offense
THE LAW WILL NEVER BE RESPECTED UNTIL THOSE WHO ENFORCE IT ARE !
POLICING AND RACE
Stonehill College: February 1, 2018
On Thursday February 1, 2018, MAPLE participated in a very intimate and informative roundtable discussion on race and policing. The discussion included: Chief Peter Carnes, Professor Anne Marie Roscheleau, Sergeant Rochelle Ryan, Stonehill College Police and Bertha Francois, from Stonehill College student body. Al Puller and Dennis Galvin participated representing MAPLE. Both Chief Carnes and Professor Roscheleau are also MAPLE members. Rochelle Ryan is a former Weymouth police officer, and Bertha Francois is a senior Criminal Justice student at the college. The group was comprised of 3 black and 3 white participants, Four general topic areas were discussed and the notes of the discussion are listed below for your reference and review:
• Dennis Galvin opened the roundtable welcoming everyone. He said that the purpose of the roundtable was to encourage a dialogue on the issue of race and policing, something that he did not believe was being done effectively by society.
• Both Al Puller and Dennis Galvin conceded the fact that the history of police/ race relations in the US has been a tragic one, and that there exists a deficit of trust and confidence in the police by the African American Community
• Most alarming, was disclosures from past discussion, that there appears to be a perception among some African Americans, that the police are either an equal, or even a greater threat to them than street gangs. This was of major concern to the MAPLE representatives
QUESTION # 1: The first question addressed by the roundtable was whether it was possible to select, train and deploy police officers , regardless of their race, to provide effective public safety, consistent with Constitutional standards, and ultimately obtain the support of the African American community ?
• One participant offered that the Boston Police had already achieved this
• There was general consensus that this could be achieved but it would take a significant effort and commitment.
• One participant said that the effort would encounter resistance from some whites and blacks, who do not believe that this can be done.
• Another participant said that the effort would require significant education on behalf of the police, while another offered that the community needs to become more aware of the police mission.
• All were in agreement that the effort had to be attempted because the consequences for not doing this would be dire.
• One participant said that forums between white officers and black citizens needed to occur. Another said that both white and black officers should be involved. It was the fact that they are officers, not their race that is the concern.
• One participant said that it would be a bad idea to create a force of all white or all black officers. Another participant stated that this had been tried and failed. The force needs to be integrated.
• One participant stated that the perception of the police among younger African Americans has been shaped in part by actual experience, but also through social media. The Ferguson incident, Treyvon Martin and other such incidents have created fear in the minds of many African Americans of the police.
• One participant said that attitudes of police officers, particularly white police officers, can be problematic. Police in general don’t like to be held accountable, they resent having to answer for their actions. Another participant was familiar with the officer involved in the Cambridge incident that led to the “beer summit” with President Barack Obama. It was offered that the officer was not racist, but that he like many officers, did not take kindly to being questioned, challenged, or “seemingly” disrespected in encounters. He could not back away from an action he took. It’s not that he couldn’t back away from the action, he didn’t even want to hear somebody challenging his appraisal of the situation.
• One applicant said that some officers have a hard time accepting the fact that people, who live in housing projects can be good people.
QUESTIONS # 2: The second question addressed by the roundtable was, what steps need to be taken to achieve the goal identified in question # 1:
• Selection was a major concern. Several participants asked how hidden racial animosity and bias, which could interfere with training officers to enforce the law more equitably, could be detected through the hiring process ?
• One participant called into question the efficacy of the police exam system. Several qualified candidates from Stonehill college applied for police positions and scored high on the examinations, but were never chosen. The impact of absolute veterans preference was discussed and the fact that there were no pre-qualifications other than residence, clean criminal record and veterans preference were cited as concerns.
• One participant said that diversity among candidates was important but not just with regard to race and ethnicity. Hiring college students would help to ensure that officers are more likely to be critical thinkers. A varied set of interests should also be considered, as well, such as computer literacy and other things. These are all needed in law enforcement.
• Another participant emphasized the need for racial sensitivity training and implicit bias training. Continuous training in these areas was emphasized by several participants.
• One participant said that even if proper selection, training and leadership could be achieved, policing within African American communities would remain difficult because of generations of bad experiences and hard feelings. These will be very difficult to overcome.
• One participant noted that dramatic changes have already occurred in Boston and in Springfield. The participant said that Springfield has had a dramatic reversal due to the efforts of the police and the community there. The Hampden County Sheriff’s Department has also been effective in making this turnabout. Another participant cited the example of community policing implemented in Springfield by Trooper Curtatone of the MSP.
Question # 3: Even with the best police officers possible, confronting violent street gangs will be dangerous work and will inevitably involve the use of force, how would the police be able to keep public support in instances where they have to apply force ?
• One participant said that educating the police force will take care of the problem, Boston has proved that.
• Another participant said that gang violence was disproportionately affecting African American neighborhoods and asked if there would be support for the effort to suppress these gangs even if force was required ?
• One participant said that the effort to suppress the gangs must go forward and the reactions would have to be dealt with as they arise.
• Another participant noted that “Broken Windows Theory” as advanced by George Kelling was misinterpreted by many police agencies. Some had conducted “pat frisks” without justification, and while they may have been taking guns off the street, they generated such bad will that in the end the effort was counterproductive.
Question # 4: What concrete steps should be taken to move forward ?
• One participant cited a recent discussion with Chief Mike Davis of the NUPD in which the Chief suggested that MAPLE push for early victory. Davis suggested that MAPLE look at establishing educational pre-qualifications for police officers. Another participant criticized the idea claiming that this would lead to another “Quinn Bill”, and that colleges and universities would be locked into mandatory requirements by the State’s Department of Higher Education.
• One participant questioned the reasoning behind rejecting the idea of pre-qualifications, stating that an academic foundation for certain law enforcement skills was absolutely essential. This was challenged by another participant, who said that the students won’t remember the course material, and that they should get it in the Police Academy.
• In response, a participant said, that certain subjects, like criminal law and civil liberties were not taught effectively in Police Academies. The participant added that a police academy could never replicate the type of exposure, that an academic environment could provide. Such an environment is required for such courses to be effective.
The meeting extended for one hour and forty minutes. In general all participants felt that the session was constructive, positive and useful.