Senate OKs creation of task force to examine laws protecting officers


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The Senate has agreed to assemble a 13-member legislative task force to review the state’s Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights.

The creation of the task force is part of a resolution sponsored by Sen. Harold Metts, who is hoping to overhaul the laws that protect officers who are abusing their power.

“Public safety officers are to protect public safety, and there should not be ways to prevent those who pervert justice from being held accountable,” Metts said. “The black, brown and southeast Asian communities have long called for genuine reform of this law to protect our safety.”

“While it shouldn’t take widely distributed videos of police brutality and murder, as well as worldwide protests, to finally bring about change, I’m hopeful that our call is finally too great to ignore,” he continued.

Metts said bringing the proper balance of voices is his goal. He said since the task force is made up of people from all sides of the debate, it will be able to take an honest look at the system and come up with a series of proposed improvements.

The task force will be made up of the following:

  • Three state senators
  • Attorney General Peter Neronha
  • Rhode Island State Police Col. James Manni
  • The police chief of a department in Rhode Island
  • The executive director of the Rhode Island Human Rights Commission or a designee
  • The president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Providence Branch or a designee
  • The president of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO or a designee
  • The executive director of the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University or a designee
  • The executive director of the Providence External Review Authority
  • Two members of the public

“I’m encouraged by the many calls I have received seeking a seat on the commission, and people’s willingness to testify and participate,” Metts said.

The task force is expected to begin meeting in the next couple of weeks.

As requested by Metts’ resolution, the task force will study the protection of the rights of residents, conduct and accountability responsibilities, police relations with racial and ethnic minority communities, police management, disciplinary procedures, enhanced training for cultural competency and mental health and diversity in all law enforcement agencies.

The task force must have its final review completed by Feb. 9, 2021.

This article has been updated to clarify when the task force must have its review completed by. The task force will begin meeting soon, according to a Senate spokesperson.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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