Governor Charles Baker
Massachusetts State House
Office of the Governor – Room 280
24 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02133
Dear Governor Baker:
As police officers who patrol the streets of Massachusetts from Provincetown to the Berkshires and Fall River to the New Hampshire line, the Massachusetts Coalition of Police is asking you to protect the public, protect our safety, protect law enforcement officers and our families’ future by refusing to accept any deeply damaging bill from the Legislature.
We have worked cooperatively with your office and with Legislators, including the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus, to help craft a bill that would provide real, substantive policing reform. We have agreed to many changes in the way that Massachusetts police departments will operate, including new certification, accreditation and oversight regulations, comprehensive bans on excessive force and a requirement that officers intervene if they see it.
But we are gravely concerned that what may emerge from the Legislature is an unreasonable and radical proposal to undermine our work and our profession.
Governor, don’t be swayed by the loudest voices in the room, coming from the fewest people. Just recently, a Gallup poll showed that 86 percent of Americans, including 81 percent of African Americans, want the police presence in their neighborhoods to stay the same – or to increase.
Our members deplore the barbaric acts of a few bad police officers in other states. They are a stain on our profession and on the vast majority of hardworking and ethical men and women who take their lives in their hands every day to protect our neighborhoods, but don’t damage law enforcement in Massachusetts and compromise public safety because of their bad actions. Do not allow the experience of other states to define policing in Massachusetts. It doesn’t.
Our Commonwealth had the third lowest rate of deadly force by police in all 50 states between 2013 and 2019, according to the Mapping Police Violence Project.
We imagine you were disturbed after three officers suffered stab wounds in Saugus attempting to restrain a man who posed a threat to his neighbors and himself. These officers were our fellow MassCOP members. Our brothers and sisters. Once again, we were reminded of the dangers police face as they keep the public safe. These police officers will recover, and for that, we are thankful, as we are grateful every time an officer encounters a life-threatening moment and returns home to his or her family. The list of those who have not been so fortunate in recent years is long: Sgt. Michael Chesna, Sgt. Sean Gannon, Officer Leon Moody, Trooper Thomas Clardy, Officer Ronald Tarantino Jr., Patrolman Dennis Simmonds, Officer Gregg Maloney, Patrolman Benjamin Voss and Officer Sean Collier.
Massachusetts should be a leader in police reform in the way it is a leader in so many areas, but leading in reform does not mean passing radical legislation that makes a hard job even harder, and a dangerous job more perilous.
The majority of police reform measures contained in the bills being deliberated are constructive and positive. But we ask you: Please amend those pieces that make our jobs more difficult and unsafe, and threaten our ability to raise a family, own a home and provide an education for our children.
Massachusetts needs policing reform. Massachusetts police need fair reform legislation.
The Massachusetts Coalition of Police represents more than 4,300 officers sworn to protect and serve their fellow citizens in 157 cities and towns.
First Vice President
Executive Board Area Vice Presidents for MassCOP
Richard J. Meehan
Michael D. Kehoe
Andrea M. Warpula
Christopher C. Kelsey
Fall River Area