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Massachusetts House police reform bill takes different approach to qualified immunity

By July 20, 2020July 30th, 2021MassCOP and Police Reform

The House plans to take up its own wide-ranging police reform bill this week, but one that takes a narrower approach to limiting qualified immunity than the Senate did in the bill it passed last week.

The House Ways and Mean Committee passed its policing legislation overnight. Amendments on the bill are due 1 p.m. Tuesday.

The bill bans chokeholds, tear gas and “no-knock” warrants with certain exceptions, but it also has some key differences from the Senate version. One of the key differences is that the House will not limit when qualified immunity applies unless the officer involved has been decertified by the proposed police standards and training commission. The Senate version suggested a narrower interpretation of when qualified immunity applies to all public employees covered by the legal doctrine.

The qualified immunity provision stirred a heated debate over several days in the Senate as Republicans and a handful of Democrats questioned the impact it would have on law enforcement officials and other public employees who make mistakes on the job.

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