Mixed Reaction From Police Accountability Activist To Proposed Reform Law

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The Massachusetts House and Senate on Tuesday passed a compromise police reform bill that's the result of months of negotiations among legislative leaders. The measure passed in the Senate by a vote of 28 to 12. The House of Representatives then passed it on a 92 to 67 vote. It now heads to Gov. Charlie Baker.

The proposed law calls for the creation of a state commission to set standards for police training and accountability. The commission would be made up of six civilians and three people from law enforcement. It would certify — or license — police officers every three years and have the power to de-certify officers who use excessive force or commit other violations.

Sgt. Eddie Chrispin, president of the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers, told WBUR's Radio Boston he has mixed feelings about the bill.

"We're in a world now where I think a lot of people are highly suspicious of police behavior, and that's fine with me," Chrispin said. "I want us to do our jobs better, but I also do not want to create a world where everybody thinks the police are the bad guys and not give them the due process that everybody else has."

Some Beacon Hill leaders called the measure one of the most comprehensive approaches to police reform and racial justice in the U.S. since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis this past May.

Boston community activist Jamarhl Crawford served on the Boston Police Reform Task Force formed by Mayor Marty Walsh last summer. He told WBUR's All Things Considered host Lisa Mullins he takes issue with that statement from lawmakers.

"If I were them I would just be satisfied in the fact that they've come a long way and now they are somewhat where the rest of the civilized world was in understanding that these things were not only problematic, but systemic," Crawford said.

"[The bill is] absolutely worthwhile, but it is definitely a day late and a dollar short," Crawford added. "And hopefully in the future it can be revisited again and either strengthened or hopefully not diminished ... At the end of the day, I don't think that real police reform depends on the cooperation or the support of the police ... they are public servants. So it's the public, the citizenry, who gets to decide how the police should conduct themselves."

This article was originally published on December 01, 2020.

This segment aired on December 1, 2020.


Headshot of Lisa Mullins

Lisa Mullins Host, All Things Considered
Lisa Mullins is the voice of WBUR’s All Things Considered. She anchors the program, conducts interviews and reports from the field.


Headshot of Lynn Jolicoeur

Lynn Jolicoeur Producer/Reporter
Lynn Jolicoeur is the field producer for WBUR's All Things Considered. She also reports for the station's various local news broadcasts.



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