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Springfield State Rep. Carlos González, chair of the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus, is calling for police reform — including independent investigations of police — but says calls to defund the police go too far.
He joined WBUR's Sharon Brody on Weekend Edition to discuss the measures the caucus is seeking. Weeks of nationwide demonstrations and protests following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd have spurred numerous lawmakers to address police standards and trainings.
In Massachusetts, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus have agreed on some guidelines for the state.
"We want to take this opportunity to concentrate on police standards of training," González said during the interview. "We believe that Massachusetts should assure that no matter where you live or train as an officer, the standards of training should be the same."
González also says an independent prosecutor or group should investigate police misconduct.
"We don't think law enforcement should be involved in investigating itself," he said.
Along with reform, protesters have been calling for the defunding of police departments across the country.
The concept has spread quickly during these weeks of protest. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said Friday that he was willing to reallocate $12 million of the Boston Police Department's overtime budget to public health and other initiatives, which equates to less than 3% of the department's overall budget.
"We don't think law enforcement should be involved in investigating itself."State Rep. Carlos González
Earlier this week, hundreds voiced their opinions about reallocating funds from the Cambridge Police Department during a Cambridge City Council meeting. The meeting ended without a resolution.
González, however, said the caucus was looking to talk about "reprogramming money."
"We're not talking about defunding the police officers," González said. "I love my police officers. I love my police institution and I want them to be here. I want them to arrest bad people. This is not about police officers, this is about a small segment of bad police officers that many good police officers say they would like to get rid of."
González said the caucus wants to improve bias training, ban chokeholds and require officers to intervene in any abuses of force.
"This is not about police officers, this is about a small segment of bad police officers that many good police officers say they would like to get rid of."State Rep. Carlos González
He said communities are experiencing symptoms, but the solutions involve addressing the causes — such as keeping people in lower income brackets.
"There's an understanding that there's been a problem," said González about attempting to address these issues earlier on. "Whether ... Rodney King or some other incident like George Floyd, ... these issues [come] to the forefront and they quiet down. And I believe that this time, it's that opportunity to turn this tragedy into some triumph and make some significant changes so we won't be here again in the next 10, 20, 30, 40 years."
This segment aired on June 14, 2020.
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