BOSTON (WHDH) - Lawmakers are pushing for change in police departments across Massachusetts.
At the State House Tuesday, legislators moved toward a bill that would improve police accountability and training while reducing racial bias in the departments.
Massachusetts is one of just a handful of states without a system for certifying or licensing police — something that Governor Charlie Baker and the legislature is trying to change.
“Cosmetologists, lawyers, doctors, you name it. This is not a new concept. And I can’t think of any other profession or occupation in this state that doesn’t have a system for removing a license for serious misconduct,” Prof. Roger Goldman of the St. Louis University Law School said.
The Massachusetts ACLU led a discussion on the topic.
Representative Russel Holmes advocated for more diversity in police departments by pushing to change civil service rules that give hiring preference to military veterans.
“If you have a disabled veteran they go to the top of the list and they score 75 and someone scores a hundred on the test, that disabled veteran goes to the top of the list,” Holmes said.
Police-youth policy expert, Lisa Thurau is questioning whether officers should even be in schools.
“For 40 years now we have totally killed safety nets in America and shunted the impacts of social economic and corporate changes onto law enforcement,” she explained.
That issue has been heating up in Framingham where residents are petitioning to have school resource officers removed from the schools.
The superintendent said he is planning to address that and responded in a statement saying:
“School Resource Officers are particularly effective when they can establish positive relationships with students and families. We must, however, be mindful that the presence of a police officer in school may evoke other emotions that cannot be minimized.”
The governor and house speaker are expected to release the details of their police licensing bills soon.
The speaker said the goal is to get a final bill signed into law by the end of July.
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