McKee, Matos talk police reform, budget in 1st non-COVID briefing

Politics

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — For more than a year, Rhode Island leaders have been holding regular briefings to update the public on the pandemic.

Seeking to do the same for topics concerning the state that aren’t related to COVID-19, Gov. Dan McKee and Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos held their first in a new series of planned briefings on Tuesday.

The governor said with so many pressing issues in Rhode Island, he wanted to discuss those publicly and give reporters a regular opportunity to ask him questions.

“The world is turning. It’s not all about COVID,” McKee said. “The world is turning, and the things that we do right now in the state are going to impact us for years to come.”

With the case of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the hands of the jury, that trial and the push for law enforcement reform in Rhode Island were hot topics at the briefing.

McKee and Matos were asked by Target 12 Investigator Ted Nesi about where they stand on proposals to overhaul the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBOR) which governs discipline and punishment for officers in Rhode Island.

Police chiefs have complained for years that the 1976 law makes it difficult for them to hold officers accountable for misconduct, while unions and their allies have fought back against proposed changes to the law over the years.

Both McKee and Matos indicated they’re open to updating the LEOBOR.

“Police officers should be held accountable just like anybody else if they abuse their positions,” McKee said. “If the bill of rights needs to be adjusted to make that happen, then it should be.”

“If you’ve noticed, most of the chiefs of police are in support for reforming the LEOBOR,” Matos added. “So I do believe it needs reform to make sure that there is accountability.”

The governor also fielded questions about the state budget and federal stimulus money coming to Rhode Island under President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

Additionally, Matos announced she will hold her first weekly small business town hall live on her Facebook page at noon Wednesday. She said she’ll be joined by McKee and other state leaders to discuss issues affecting the small business community and answer questions from small business owners.

Video Now: McKee, Matos field questions from reporters

McKee and the R.I. Department of Health will hold their next COVID-19 briefing at 1 p.m. Thursday, which you can watch live on WPRI 12 and WPRI.com.

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