Ashland Town Manager & Framingham Mayor Sign Pledge To Address Racism and Violence in Law Enforcement

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FRAMINGHAM – About 20 mayors and managers from cities and towns, have signed a Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) pledge to address systemic racism in our communities and violence in law enforcement.

“After the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and many other people of color who have lost their lives or have been injured as a result of police brutality, our residents are demanding significant changes in the way policing is conducted. We hear them and we are listening. Though our cities and towns differ, all of our residents deserve to feel safe in their homes and on our streets, and now is the time to make these changes a reality in our communities,” reads the pledge.

Among those who signed are Ashland Town Manager Michael Herbert, who is also a Framingham resident, and Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer.

The text of the pledge is below:

As we continue to engage in community conversations and learn more from our Black and
Brown residents, the following principles will guide our efforts:

As we continue to engage in community conversations and learn more from our Black and
Brown residents, the following principles will guide our efforts:

  1. We agree that systemic racism is a public health emergency, which must be addressed
    by strong and decisive actions over the coming weeks and months, and by patient and
    determined efforts years into the future. We are in this now; we are in it for the long haul.
  2. We acknowledge that racial biases and inequities exist, and we are committed to achieving
    racial equity and identifying disparities in local municipal services, education, health, housing,
    transportation, jobs, law enforcement, and youth programming, among others. We are
    committed to providing safe spaces for community input and dialogue around these issues
    and we will continue to work together to share best practices and to make progress at the
    local, state, and federal levels.
  3. We are committed to instituting an anti-violence approach to policing that prioritizes the
    safety, health, and well being of all community members, including police officers, as its
    primary goal. Policing practices that seek to de-escalate conflict, minimize the use of force,
    avoid false arrest, and establish trust with all residents, especially communities of color, will
    inform decisions on recruitment, training, promotion, equipment, and tactics.
  4. We will work to address racism within law enforcement in a proactive, intentional, and
    consistent manner.
  5. We will make it a priority to take action now as local governments, and we will also advocate
    for state and federal policies and funding to enable cities and towns to accomplish the goals of
    this pledge.

In order to create a consistent approach to anti-violence and anti-racist policing across the
Commonwealth, we must advance legislation that will make these changes possible. We support
the following legislative efforts:

  1. The civil service recruitment system is a barrier to forming police forces committed to antiviolence. The use of a single exam to provide a list of potential police recruits is not sufficient
    to properly vet candidates. We must work together with the Governor and the Legislature
    to create a more robust and holistic system of recruitment for our departments. We will also
    pursue legislation that allows any community to leave the civil service system by a simple
    majority vote of their Town Meeting or City Council, and that ensures leaving the civil
    service system is not considered a working condition change that triggers renegotiation of
    collective bargaining agreements.
  2. The current arbitration and bargaining policies and processes that dictate the way our
    departments deal with poor officer performance, and especially the inappropriate use of
    force, make it very hard to address police misconduct. Current arbitration and bargaining
    procedures mean that officers who are repeatedly cited for violent, biased, inappropriate,
    or racist behavior can remain in office. This needs to change. Since it will likely require
    legislation, we will pursue legislative strategies that give cities and towns the flexibility to
    quickly and effectively address misconduct by police officers. These could include changes
    to the finding of fact, arbitrator selection, and the opportunity for an arbitrator to substitute
  3. The state and federal government should provide cities and towns with funding for antiracism training and education programs for members of the municipal workforces. Within
    police departments, this means cities and towns must have the ability to provide ongoing
    training police officers on implicit bias, racial equity, and non-violent approaches to law
    enforcement. Some communities have the financial flexibility to reallocate existing funding
    for training, but that is not true in every community in the Commonwealth, and we must
    make sure that every community can afford these critical investments for law enforcement
    agencies, and for other municipal employees.
  4. We support the passage of legislation endorsed by the Massachusetts Black and Latino
    Legislative Caucus
  1. Create an independent authority to investigate and prosecute the use of force by officers in
    all cases that result in emergency medical care, hospitalization, or the death of a civilian.
    This independent body would have the authority to determine whether the use of force was
    justified consistent with state law and would have the power to prosecute cases where such
    force was not deemed necessary.

To start placing the principles of anti-violence and anti-racism at the heart of our police
departments’ work, we will also work to implement local policies and actions. These have been
informed by what is outlined in the #8Can’tWait and Campaign Zero platforms and by our
own conversations. Some of the undersigned communities have already adopted these or similar
policies. For those of us that have not, we will consider those policies that will work in our
communities and maintain ongoing conversations with our residents, and where appropriate, our
local legislative bodies.

  1. Declare that racism is a public health crisis and worthy of treatment, assessment, and
    financial investment in order to eradicate negative impacts.
  2. Ensure that the community has a Commission that focuses on Race, Equity, and Inclusion to
    help us address racism in all aspects of our communities.
  3. Require the adoption of a use of force continuum of practice by our departments.
  4. Require officers to de-escalate all interactions to prevent violence or the use of force.
  5. Require officers to exhaust all alternatives before force is used.
  6. Require officers to give sufficient warning before force is threatened, applied, or firearms are
  7. Apply a “duty to intervene” on all officers if they see force being threatened or applied
    prematurely or inappropriately.
  8. Ban the use of any chokeholds and strangleholds and develop explicit and effective alternatives with a lower likelihood of injury or death.
  9. Ban shooting at or from a moving vehicle or within crowds.
  10. Require comprehensive public reporting of incidents where force is applied
  11. Adopt policies to address poor performance and inappropriate uses of force by officers quickly and effectively, while we also seek statutory changes that will strengthen the impact of these policies.
  12. Review our police budgets and assess whether allocations might be better deployed either within police departments or for other critical community programs.
  13. Re-evaluate whether responsibilities that are currently performed by police officers could be provided in new and different ways or by non-police personnel.
  14. Discuss and explore the possibility of establishing meaningful and effective Civilian Review Boards.
  15. Redouble our efforts to hire and retain more people of color within our police departments, with an emphasis on diversifying both the officer corps and the command structure, while recognizing that some of the constraints placed on local government by state law must be changed.
  16. Enact policies and practices that enable protests that are free from violence and the fear of violence by any party.
  17. Make data on use of force and other key data available to the public on a regular basis.
  18. Examine crowd control tactics during protests so they do not contribute to confrontation and place police officers and members of the community at risk of harm. This includes assessing the practices of regional emergency response teams that are supported through mutual aid to gauge whether they comport with our commitment to anti-violence.


email: call or text at 508-315-7176

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