By Shane Hackett –
On Wednesday Governor Baker filed the “Act to Improve Police Officer Standards and Accountability and to Improve Training.”
In a statement Governor Baker says, “This bill will create a more modern, transparent and accountable system for law enforcement credentialing and training. It will provide police departments with the tools they need to build trust and strong relationships with every community across the Commonwealth—at a time when we need it most.”
Lt. Governor Karyn Polito said, “Massachusetts is one of four states without a police certification process.”
The legislation filed by the Governor would require police officers in Massachusetts to be certified, and it would allow for decertification, suspension of certification, or reprimand in the event of certain misconduct.
Also the legislation will create the Police Officer Standards and Accreditation (POSA) Committee, which would be comprised of law enforcement and civilian representatives, at least half of whom would be required to be persons of color.
The Governor’s office says that the POSA Committee would have the responsibility of certifying all law enforcement officials in Massachusetts, including those from non-municipal departments serving transit agencies, colleges, and other entities.
The POSA Committee would under the legislation filed, be required to create a database of certified officers, ensure that training and misconduct records are available to officers’ current and future employers, and develop a standardized background check for those seeking employment with a new police department. The background check would include a check of the POSA database and the National Decertification Index.
The legislation also provides incentives for law enforcement officers who pursue advanced training in relevant skills and specialties beyond the levels required of all police officers. Such training would include foreign languages, advanced domestic violence and sexual assault response, advanced de-escalation techniques, and other high-level proficiencies.