By Bob Katzen
House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Rep. Carlos Gonzalez (D-Springfield), the chair of the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus met and then released a statement outlining the major points of a police reform bill that would ban officers’ use of chokeholds. Another key provision creates the new independent Office of Police Standards and Professional Conduct that would provide oversight of police certification and enhanced training and develop minimum statewide policies and procedures for law enforcement, including the use of force. The two said they agreed to a goal of both branches approving and sending a reform bill to Gov. Charlie Baker before the end of July.
Other provisions include establishing an “affirmative obligation” for police officers to intervene if a fellow officer is improperly or illegally using force and creating a special legislative commission to study the civil service law for ways to improve minority recruitment of police.
“Together, we are outlining short-term actions required to help address structural inequalities that lead to racial bias — both implicit and explicit – while identifying ways to make continued progress on issues that require additional review,” DeLeo and Gonzalez said in the statement. “We are also focused on shared, overarching goals that will be part of future, separate discussions including education and income inequality.”
“As with any difficult task, the first step is to dig in and begin working,” the statement continued. “Today we took that first step. And, we want to be clear, we view the ultimate enactment of this piece of omnibus legislation as our first step along the long road to ensuring the promise of equal justice for all the citizens of the commonwealth.”