LEGISLATIVE UPDATE-Massachusetts Police Reform Legislation

Boston, MA- A house and senate conference committee reached a compromise on so-called police reform legislation last night in Massachusetts.

The compromise creates a police accountability and oversight system, which would require officers to be certified every three years and could result in officers losing their certification for violations including excessive use of force.

On the highly-controversial issue of qualified immunity which protects workers from lawsuits against their personal assets for alleged actions in the performance of their duties, the conference committee adopted the more-narrowly focused house language, which states that a police officer would only lose qualified immunity protections if he or she were fired/decertified by the newly-created oversight board. The senate language sought to remove qualified immunity protections for ALL public-sector workers regardless of whether or not they were terminated.

While we are encouraged by the fact that the senate's qualified immunity language was not adopted, we still have a number of concerns with the house language including the lack of due process for law enforcement officers who may be terminated. As such, we will continue to work in coalition with other unions representing law enforcement professionals on actions going forward.

The house and senate are expected to vote on the compromise legislation today. Should the compromise pass both branches, it will be sent to the governor for his approval. The governor has ten days to act on the bill and he has a few options. He can send the bill back to the legislature amended, or veto the entire bill. Under either circumstance, the legislature would have to vote again on the governor's actions. They would be required to vote to accept or reject any amendments, or override a veto with a two-thirds majority of both branches.

We will continue to keep members informed as the process moves forward.