Gov. Baker Signs Police Reform Legislation

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BOSTON – Today, January 7, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito joined legislators and public safety officials to participate in a ceremonial signing of S.2963, An Act Relative to Justice, Equity and Accountability in Law Enforcement in the Commonwealth.

Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito were also joined by Senate President Karen Spilka, Speaker of the House Ronald Mariano, Senator William Brownsberger, Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz, Representative Claire Cronin, Representative Russell Holmes, Representative Chynah Tyler, MA Chiefs of Police Association President Ed Dunne, and former MA Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers President Larry Ellison to participate in the ceremonial signing.

““The effort to dismantle institutional and structural racism that exists in our Commonwealth must be both a sprint and a marathon,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D – Ashland), last week. “This bill was a necessary first step towards achieving systemic change through law enforcement accountability and transparency, but I recognize that we must continue to address barriers to racial equity in a comprehensive way. I am proud of everyone who marched for equity and justice, who continued to raise their voices throughout the process of getting this bill finalized, and who will hold us accountable as we continue this work. I am also extremely proud of my partners in government who felt the gravity of the situation we faced, and who worked hard to meet the moment.”

The legislation will create a mandatory certification process for police officers, increases accountability and transparency in law enforcement and gives police departments a greater ability to hire or promote only qualified applicants.

The new law also identifies the general circumstances under which police officers can use physical force, and places strict limits on the use of so-called ‘no-knock warrants.’

In addition, the legislation requires law enforcement to seek a court order when conducting a facial recognition search except in emergency situations.

Click here to read more about the police reform law.

“The members of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association are eager to turn the page on what has been an unprecedented and incredibly difficult and enduring year on so many different levels,” said Chief Edward A. Dunne, President of the Massachusetts Chief of Police Association, last week. “We are extremely confident that this comprehensive legislation signed into law by the Governor today will serve to renew an elevated sense of faith, confidence, and trust that the residents of the Commonwealth will have in their law enforcement agencies across the state. The MCOPA fully realizes and wholeheartedly agrees that the general public deserves nothing less than the highest level of professionalism, accountability and transparency in their respective police departments and this legislation will assist in enhancing our long-standing position as what are viewed by many national experts as model police departments across the entire country.”

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