The House Can Strengthen Its Police Reform Bill


Yesterday, the MA House released its police reform bill, and needless to say, we’re disappointed. Although there are some improvements on the Senate bill (stronger language on facial surveillance and chokeholds), the House punted on reforming qualified immunity, weakened language on reducing the school-to-prison pipeline, eliminated the Justice Reinvestment Fund, and dropped a whole section devoted to controlling the transfer of military equipment to police forces.

The House will be voting THIS WEEK, so your state rep needs to be hearing from YOU that you want a stronger bill. We’ve outlined some key amendments below.

Making Sure that Schools Are Safe & Welcoming Spaces

#1 (Sabadosa): Ensuring Public Accountability for School Policing, which provides school districts with discretion about whether or not to hire school resource officers

#88 (Elugardo): Protecting Students From Profiling, which disrupts the school-to-prison pipeline by preventing the transmission of student information to law enforcement agencies

Centering Public Safety around Community

#46 (Keefe): Justice Reinvestment and Workforce Development Fund, which would reallocate an equivalent sum of money from savings from the Department of Corrections into a fund for job training and workforce development for communities disproportionately targeted by the criminal-legal system

#71 (Sabadosa): Alternatives to Policing, which establishes a Community Emergency Response Team consisting of trained social workers under the Department of Public Health to divert certain 911 calls to

#99 (Barber): Work and Family Mobility, which ensures that immigration status is not a barrier to obtaining a driver’s license

#166 (Vargas): Clarifying Expungement, which has the potential to remove major barriers for thousands of young people including access to jobs, housing, education, and other opportunities

Demilitarizing Police & Strengthening Regulations on the Use of Force

#92 (Elugardo) Pre-Emptive De-Escalation, which requires police departments to make plans for de-escalation in advance of protests

#97 (Robinson): No-Knock Warrants, which bans the use of no-knock raids

#131 (Lewis): Restrictions on the Acquisition on Military Grade Controlled Property, which imposes limitations and democratic oversight requirements on the procurement of military weaponry by state and local enforcement

#194 (Robinson): Use of force tactics, which bans the use of rubber bullets and attack dogs by police

#200 (Connolly): Tear Gas, which bans the use of tear gas

Increasing Police Accountability

#77 (Vargas): Preponderance of Evidence as the Burden of Proof for License Suspension and Revocation, which changes the burden of proof used by the Massachusetts Police Standards and Training Commission to suspend/revoke licenses from “clear and convincing evidence” to “a preponderance of the evidence”

#100 (Provost): Addressing Direct Civil Rights Violations, which would allow victims of police brutality and other civil rights violations to bring claims in state court for direct violations of their rights -- without having to prove that their rights were violated by means of threats, intimidation or coercion.

#176 (Hecht): Reforming qualified immunity for law enforcement officers, which would enable victims of police brutality to hold officers accountable in court by allowing officers to claim immunity only if it was clearly established that their conduct was lawful.

#210 (Malia): Officer identification, which requires all officers to have a badge with their name, identification number, and agency visible, with violations subject to suspension or other discipline

Independence of the Police Standards & Accreditation Commission

#95 (Robinson): Makeup of POSAC, which ensures that the civilian members of the commission are not family members of law enforcement

#96 (Robinson): Designation of POSAC Chair, which takes away the Governor’s ability to appoint the commission’s chair and allows the commission to appoint its own

#202 (Decker): Police Standards Commission, which eliminates the guaranteed law enforcement seats on the commission

Preventing a Gross Misallocation of Funds

#86 (Miranda): Prioritizing Social Equity Spending of Marijuana Revenue, which stipulates that if any money is redirected from the Marijuana Regulation Fund to the Police Training Fund, an equal or greater amount must be transferred to a social equity training and assistance fund

#94 (Robinson): Police Training Fund & #211 (Vega): Marijuana Regulation Fund, which strike the language redirecting funds from the Marijuana Regulation Fund to the Police Training Fund

Protecting the Human Rights of the Incarcerated

#2 (Sabadosa): Use of Force within the DOC, which would require the Department of Corrections and sheriffs’ offices to provide a commission on the use of force within prisons and jails with necessary documentation to conduct oversight

#98 (Sabadosa): Decarceration, which would require the release of individuals who are currently in pre-trial detainment or under incarceration if they are a member of a population deemed especially vulnerable by the CDC, are eligible for medical parole, are almost finished with their sentence, or are only being detained due to inability to pay bail or due to minor violations of parole

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