To All MassCOP Members,
I am as frustrated, confused and as angry as many of you are right now. This morning, the Senate passed their police reform bill at 4:00a.m. You have all worked so hard to get our message out to our elected officials in the Senate, and while some chose to listen to your feedback, and that of others, the majority did not. Several Senators tried their hardest to get Amendment #137 – QI – to a study, but were ultimately unsuccessful. Amendment # I 14 was withdrawn and Amendment #134 – Preserving Due Process, was decided at 2:45 a.m. in an unfavorable vote, 24 to l6, beginning the slow process of stripping away our collective bargaining rights.
With the Senate debate behind us, it is time to shift our focus to the House. The House’s version of reform has not been released, but could be as early as today. On a positive note, and something that all of law enforcement has voiced their opinions about with the Senate, the House will hold a hearing for their version of the Bill. I applaud Speaker DeLeo for allowing this process to happen with open debate, discussion, and transparency.
This is a statement issued by Speaker DeLeo and members of the House last night:
“Pending receipt of the engrossed Senate bill, the House will provide a public process for soliciting feedback on S2800, thereby allowing the public and stakeholders an opportunity to be heard prior to the House debate of its proposal. Given the circumvention of the joint committee process and short timeframe ahead of us, the House Committee on Ways & Means (as the committee to which the bill will be referred) will, in cooperation with Chairwoman Cronin and the other House members of the Judiciary Committee, hold a public process allowing for input. Given the time constraints, we face; it is our hope that the Senate can get us the papers as soon as possible to allow for the virtual hearing this week.
“Both the House Committee on Ways & Means and the House Members of the Judiciary Committee will be invited to participate in the public process. As the State House remains closed to the public, the public and stakeholders will be invited to provide feedback remotely. Additional details will be provided by the Committees in short order.
“Despite a changed timetable, House leadership remains committed to working with the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus and House colleagues to take decisive action through omnibus legislation. We look forward to reviewing the Senate’s engrossed bill and the work ahead.”
This is the third step in the process, and as I have already stated, we expect that the House’s version will be very different than the Senate’s version of the Bill. As a profession we will, once again, have to come together and ensure that our voices are heard. We have a responsibility, as police officers, to ensure that police reform efforts are made in the best interest of Massachusetts.
We will have to make the calls, write the emails, talk to family and friends to get them to better understand and support us on those potential pieces that do not help hold law enforcement to the highest standards and, therefore, are not right for us as officers or the citizens of Massachusetts. We must continue to speak with one voice, as a profession, or we will not be successful.
So please catch your breath, be ready for the next part of the debate, and always hold your head high because you deserve it and you have earned it every single day that you are On the Job: serving the public.
Scott A. Hovsepian