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Senate passes police reform bill

By July 15, 2020January 10th, 2021MassCOP and Police Reform

The state Senate passed what may be the most comprehensive police reform bill in state history Tuesday morning after an all-night session that saw debate on a raft of amendments.

The Reform, Shift + Build act contains provisions that place limitations on qualified immunity, require police departments to record and make public data on the race of people stopped by police and places limits on use of force and the acquisition of military-grade equipment. The bill also contains a provision that would direct the state to shift funding from policing and incarceration to job training and create economic opportunities in communities that have been adversely affected by over-incarceration.

“This bill is a vital step towards a new vision of public safety: one that’s built on accountability, de-escalation, and care,” said Sen. Sonia Chang -Díaz, co-chair of the Senate Working Group on Racial Justice, in a media statement. “It begins the long, necessary work of shifting power and resources to Black communities and communities of color who have, for too long, faced criminalization and punishment instead of investment.”

A key component of the bill is a Police Officer Standards and Accreditation Committee (POSAC), a group the bill’s authors say would be have the power to de-certify officers who are found guilty of engaging in acts of egregious misconduct. The committee would be made up of law enforcement officers and civilians, including criminal justice reform advocates. The committee would receive all complaints of misconduct against Massachusetts police officers, have subpoena power and would maintain a database of officer complaints.

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