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Police Reform is Here

Updated: Jul 1, 2021

On December 31, 2020, Governor Baker signed into law, effective

Enforcement in the Commonwealth. The Act directly addresses issues of

racial inequality, both within law enforcement and beyond. For law

enforcement, it establishes a municipal police training committee to set policies

and standards for the training of municipal police officers, among other

categories of law enforcement personnel. The training curriculum must include

programs on de-escalation tactics, hate crime identification, regulation of the

use of physical force, and appropriate interactions with persons with intellectual

or developmental disabilities or issues with mental wellness. Municipal police

officers must be certified by the state, and those certifications require periodic

retraining and renewal. Certain police responses, such as the use of choke

holds or rubber bullets, are prohibited.

There are many other provisions that affect municipal operations. The Act

imposes a penalty of treble damages and potential imprisonment on a law

enforcement officer who submits a false record of hours worked. It requires

municipal police departments, before September 21, 2021, to submit

disciplinary records of its officers to the newly established Peace Officer

Standards and Training Commission. It amends the Public Records Act so as

to deem “records related to a law enforcement misconduct investigation” to be

producible as public records. It also creates several commissions empowered

to submit policy recommendations to the Legislature and executive agencies to

improve the treatment of groups that historically have been treated unequally in

the Commonwealth.


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