BOSTON (CBS) – Weeks of protests demanding police reform prompted the Massachusetts Senate to propose a sweeping bill that calls for change.
“The George Floyd incident brings home a number of messages,” Senator Will Brownsberger told WBZ. “That can never happen in Massachusetts so we want to do everything to reduce the risk of that in terms of oversight and also in terms of just rules. Set the boundaries so people stay within boundaries.”
The boundaries in the legislation include a civilian oversight board, the certification and decertification of officers, a ban on chokeholds, duty to intervene and would do away with qualified immunity paving the way for officers to be sued for civil rights violations.
In response, Yarmouth Police posted a message on Facebook saying the Senate reforms go too far.
“We want a really good bill that is encompassing a lot of different things in it,” Yarmouth Police Chief Frank Frederickson said. “We also want to keep in mind that we want it to be fair.”
A coalition of police unions called the bill a missed opportunity and said the proposal was done without public hearings.
Frederickson says there are a lot of good police officers out there working every day doing things that don’t get reported. “Every day our men and women go out there and do these incredible things. You never hear about them because nothing happens when they do it right,” Frederickson said. “And it’s our job to keep that rolling. We want to keep being progressive and make sure we are doing the right thing for everybody.”
The legislation also calls for reallocation of funds and would allow schools to opt out of having a police officer on school grounds. The House of Representatives is also working on its own version of a police reform bill. Sponsors of the Senate bill say they will work with the House to get an agreed upon bill on Governor Baker’s desk as soon as possible.