PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island lawmakers are once again considering legislation that would reform a state law that protects police officers being investigated for misconduct.
The Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, more commonly known as LEOBOR, lays the groundwork for what information can and can’t be shared with the public when an officer is disciplined.
The existing law also allows officers a hearing before a three-member of panel of active or retired police officers before discipline beyond two days of unpaid suspension can be imposed.
The legislation proposed this week by Senate President Dominick Ruggerio includes changes to the current law like expanding that panel to five members. Those members would include three randomly selected officers, a representative from the Nonviolence Institute and a retired judge appointed by the chief justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court.
The bill would also allow police chiefs to release video evidence and make public comment.
This isn’t the first time lawmakers have had conversations about reforming LEOBOR. The General Assembly discussed the law at length following the death of George Floyd, though that bill stalled in both the House and Senate.
LEOBOR reform gained momentum once again earlier this year, when Pawtucket officer Daniel Dolan was acquitted of all criminal charges in the off-duty shooting of a teenager two years ago.
Through LEOBOR, the city was ordered pay Dolan $123,934 in back pay because he was found not guilty. His original salary of $71,888 was also reinstated.
Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien has previously expressed support for reforming LEOBOR, arguing that it has restricted the actions the city and department can take against officers being investigated for misconduct.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of the bill Wednesday night, and it will go to the full Senate for a vote on Thursday.
It’s unclear exactly how far this bill will go as the General Assembly’s goal is to wrap the legislative session by Thursday.
Rep. Raymond Hull, who’s the sponsor of a LEOBOR reform bill in the House, tells 12 News he does not support the Senate president’s version of the legislation.