As a former legislator and Chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Safety, I am both dismayed and disappointed in the Legislature’s push to pass the “Police Destruction Bill.” All major reform bills (education, health care, transportation) took between two and five years to pass, after detailed debate, scrutiny and public input. This so-called “Police Reform bill” was written, introduced, and passed the Legislature in three weeks, with NO public hearings and little professional input.
Democratic legislators had a knee jerk reaction to the fatal and unfortunate incident surrounding George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, along with several other disturbing incidents across the nation. However, this is not the norm or precedent in Massachusetts. Our biggest abuse of police power had to do with an overtime scandal, not police brutality. In fact, I would argue the reverse is happening in Massachusetts. Police and corrections officers have been the victims of overwhelming increased violence and slayings from Auburn Police Officer Ronald Tarentino, Souza Baranowski Correction Officer Nate Beauvais stabbed 17 times in the neck and face, to the police slaying of Weymouth Police Officer Michael Chesna, to name just a few.
This pending Police Destruction Bill in the Legislature, goes way beyond common sense reform and improved training. Currently Massachusetts prohibits police choke holds, emphasizes de-escalation tactics, supports more mental health awareness, has some of the highest educated and trained public safety officers in the nation and most importantly, denies qualified immunity for any officer found violating an individual’s civil rights.
The bill pending in the Legislature, over steps its original intent, and seeks to destabilize, defund and demoralize public safety in Massachusetts. It boldly and broadly eliminates qualified immunity for our public safety officials, which will create a flood of frivolous lawsuits and disciplinary charges. It eliminates due process and establishes a kangaroo appeal board run by civilians (that excludes public safety experience), limits the scope of no-knock search warrants, and panders to special interest groups committed to disrupting the duties and responsibilities of our public safety personnel.
Legislators need to vote in the best interest of their constituents, district, and citizens of Massachusetts, and not blindly with legislative leadership. Legislators should develop political fortitude and courage, and protect those that have dedicated their lives to protecting us.
Guy W. Glodis,