We are down to the wire and the final hours before Governor Baker decides where he truly stands on police reform, and who he truly stands with.
You and every one of our 4,300 members have worked so hard and have been so strong in calling on legislators on Beacon Hill to enact sensible reform. On some of the most important issues to you and your families, you have made a real difference. The most aggressive and outrageous attacks on qualified immunity, for instance, have been fended off. Even the Boston Globe editorial board – which has repeatedly stoked anti-police sentiment in Massachusetts – has acknowledged that and credited law enforcement labor groups with the victory.
But we all know the bill as delivered to Governor Baker – S2963 – is terribly flawed in how it would create a POST commission dominated by people with no law enforcement experience or understanding of the profession. We know how it is unacceptable that serious unintended consequences would result from the imperfect language around the use of force. We know how it is simply unconscionable that this bill would deny due process rights to police that are enjoyed by every other public employee in the Commonwealth.
Governor Baker must fix these flaws by sending the bill back to the legislature with very clear amendment language, or he must veto it outright as bad legislation with damaging consequences for public safety. There is no other way to put it: we have given Governor Baker the correct guidance on these very few, but very important issues in an otherwise massive 129-page bill. We have given him a path to follow that would allow the result of police reform in Massachusetts to at least satisfy all parties and which would truly enhance policing best practices and accountability.
He must choose that path, and you must take time in these final hours to call and email Governor Baker’s office and urge him to fix this bill or veto it. The status quo as it stands or some half-way approach will not do.
I want to thank you again for the commitment you have shown in helping MassCOP deliver our message during this frustrating, secretive and unfair process, and I want to share something with you that I hope will be encouraging. You should know that the most recent and most comprehensive data available on how American voters truly feel about law enforcement is remarkably positive. In fact, it shows that the mood and tone on Beacon Hill as demonstrated by the Conference Committee report on police reform is completely out of step with how the vast majority of Americans feel about their local police.
A survey question sponsored by MassCop found that only 11 percent of all respondents indicated they support ‘defunding’ their local police in their own communities. You will recall this term has been used as a rallying cry for police reform legislation across America. Only 9 percent of those polled said they would support a reduction of community outreach opportunities provided by local police, and only 8 percent said they would support a reduction in police safety coverage in their communities. In fact, 61 percent of all respondents support investment in additional training for local law enforcement within their communities. The poll was fielded by Seven Letter Insight from November 10th – November 19th and surveyed 1,500 confirmed voters in the 2020 general election – a representative and proportional sample of Democrats, Republicans and Independents.
As I said, it is encouraging. But the larger point today is that the Conference Committee and those who supported S2963 in its current form are completely out of step with what voters in our communities really think about police. This bill actually LOST support in both the House and Senate since both chambers approved their respective versions in July. In all, 67 Democrats opposed the conference report – an increase since July, and NOT ONE Republican voted in favor of this bill as written.
Will Governor Baker become the ONLY Republican to support this terribly flawed bill without making critical, but reasonable, changes?
You cannot allow that to happen. You MUST spend time in these final hours before decision time to make yourself heard in the Governor’s office. Please do it now and ask your friends and family to do the same.
Thank you for your incredible commitment and dedication.
Scott H. Hovsepian