BOSTON (WPRI) — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced new legislation Wednesday aiming to improve police officer standards, training and accountability.
“It will provide police departments with the tools they need to build trust and strong relationships with every community across the Commonwealth—at a time when we need it most,” Baker said.
The bill would create a law enforcement certification system. Officers must renew their certification every three years, and it would also allow for suspension of certification, decertification, or reprimand for certain misconduct such as use of excessive force.
Once an officer is decertified, they will be terminated, according to Baker.
The bill would also create a database of certified officers, as well as offer incentives for officers to pursue advanced training such as domestic violence and sexual assault response, foreign languages, and advanced deescalation techniques.
“Massachusetts is one of four states without a police certification process, but the high standards of training we require for our police departments give us a strong foundation on which to build one,” Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said. “This bill will allow police departments to make better-informed recruitment and hiring choices while improving accountability for all the communities we serve.”
In addition, the legislation would create the Police Officer Standards and Accreditation (POSA) Committee, which would be responsible for certifying all law enforcement officials in Massachusetts, including those serving transit agencies and colleges.
The committee will be comprised of both law enforcement and civilian representatives, Polito said, at least half of which must be people of color.
Baker said his administration collaborated with public safety officials and the Black and Latino Caucus to create the bill.
State Rep. Carlos Gonzalez, chair of the Black and Latino Caucus, said it checks off one of ten points they’ve asked the governor to address.
“We are here today because the protests have been heard,” Gonzalez said. “We are encouraged by today as a start in the right direction.”
“The victims of violence, we hear you,” added state Rep. Russell Holmes, another member of the caucus. “There is no member of this caucus who does not hear you, none of us, and we going to amplify your voices every single day.”