Lawmakers in Massachusetts are set to vote on a police reform bill that would make some of the biggest changes in years to law enforcement oversight and rules in the state. If approved, the legislation would head to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk to be signed into law.
In a press conference Tuesday, Baker said his office is still reviewing the bill, but praised lawmakers for making the compromise a priority in this legislative session, WBUR reports.
If the bill becomes law, it will among other things:
* Create a Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) commission. Massachusetts POST will develop and implement training standards for all officers in Massachusetts and have the power to investigate misconduct independently. The bill stipulates only three members of the nine-member commission can be from law enforcement, including a current police chief appointed by the governor.
* Change qualified immunity. If a police officer is decertified by the state, he or she loses immunity.
* Ban facial recognition, except by the state's registry of motor vehicles (RMV). Law enforcement could get a warrant to have the RMV run a facial recognition search.
* Creates stronger use-of-force policies and rules for less-lethal weapons. The bill bans chokeholds entirely, restricts officers from firing into a fleeing motor vehicle unless there’s a risk of imminent harm and creates rules around the use of tear gas, dogs and rubber bullets.
* Investigate structural racism. Three special legislative commissions will look at institutional racism in jails and prisons, probation and parole. They’ll investigate disparities in the treatment of people of color and whether structural racism is the cause, and recommend changes.