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Mass. delays new police misconduct database

The new Massachusetts agency charged with tracking complaints against police officers says it will be several more weeks before it makes public a database of complaints and the officers involved.

The Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission originally hoped to publish the data as early as Friday. But the department has been struggling to piece together data from hundreds of departments and with trying to ensure the information is accurate, particularly since many officers have worked for different departments and share the same first and last names.

Enrique Zuniga, executive director of the commission, said at a meeting Thursday that one issue is the state needs to verify whether officers with complaints are still working in law enforcement.

"We feel it's necessary that we conduct one last step of data validation," Zuniga said.  "We're contemplating that we let each agency see the records submitted to us that we're aggregating and make any last directions before we make them public."

The database was a key requirement of the sweeping criminal justice law passed two years ago after protests against police brutality in Boston and across the country. Until recently, Massachusetts was one of the few states that did not license police officers or track complaints against local police. Instead, the state left oversight to individual departments.

It is expected to include basic information about investigations against every active law enforcement officer in the state and the outcome of those investigations, including suspensions, terminations and resignations to avoid discipline. Zuniga said the commission has so far compiled 4,500 records.

However, the commission also acknowledged the database won't be complete when it's released. The state said it plans to omit pending investigations and some departments have been slow to share data. In addition, some departments only submitted records for more recent years.

Commission members also met behind closed doors Thursday to discuss a lawsuit accusing it of violating the state's open meeting law. The lawsuit was filed in Suffolk Superior Court last month by a group of law enforcement unions.


WBUR's Deborah Becker contributed to this report.

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