Massachusetts officers must acquire certification in state’s police reform bill

Massachusetts

(WWLP) — In the wake of protests calling for accountability and transparency of law enforcement, Massachusetts officers will be required to get a certification for their license under a new bill proposed by Governor Charlie Baker.

Governor Baker said it is the first step towards implementing a package of police reforms.

“This bill will create a more modern, more transparent, more accountable system for law enforcement training,” said Governor Baker. “It will ensure that the men and women who cannot live up to the high standards we expect them to uphold do not stay on the force.”

The licensing system for police and other law enforcement officers will require them to get certified every three years. A database will be created to track those standards statewide. The public will be allowed to access certain information from that database, including certification status.

Officers would lose their licenses if they improperly use force or fail to intervene when fellow officers use excessive force, such as a chokehold.

In a black community town hall, Springfield City Council President Justin Hurst said issues Springfield has with its police department is now coming to light.

“You have undercover officers who beat four men of color in the parking lot of a popular business,” said Hurst. “And they were probably one kick away from killing one of those individuals—you know that could have been George Floyd.”

The bill would create incentives to improve police training programs and promote de-escalation to better serve their communities. Massachusetts is currently one of the few states that do not have strict licensing requirements for law enforcement.

Lawmakers hope to have changes implemented into law before the end of July.

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