|President of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association: 'Law Enforcement in Massachusetts is Under Attack'||July 21, 2020|
|Susan Petroni, Framingham Source Editor 508-315-7176||Framingham Source|
FRAMINGHAM - More than 100 police chiefs across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts gathered at the parking lot of the AMC Theatres in Framingham on Tuesday morning, July 21, to protest proposed police reform legislation at the State House.
The Massachusetts Senate approved a police reform bill last week, and the Massachusetts House of Representatives is expected to vote on the bill on Wednesday.
"The legislation in the House and the Senate are nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction to the events happening hundreds of miles away from here. These bills are not a response to any current situation in Massachusetts," said President of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association Hamden Police Chief Jeff Farnsworth. "Make no mistake about it, law enforcement in Massachusetts is under attack by a liberal element that wants to bring change that none of us understand," Farnsworth said.
None of us know how it is going to look, but as leaders we can stand here today and tell you the legislation will not make us safer," said the President of the Police Chief Association.
The police chiefs want legislators to create a commission to oversee police standards and training, including the certification of officers. They do not want this legislation rushed to meet the July 31 deadline, the end of the legislative session. The Massachusetts bills were introduced in response to nationwide demonstrations calling for racial justice and police reform after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers in May.
Natick Police Chief James Hicks also spoke at the rally.
"In 2015, we introduced training to not only our recruit officers but our senior officers on interacting with persons with mental illness or emotional distress. We did that in 2015. Well before Ferguson. Well before Minneapolis, and well before anyone in the legislature has given us support to do that. We did it on our own because it was the right thing to do," said Hicks, who chairs the Municipal Police Training Committee for the Association.
The Association President said Police Chiefs were not included in the process for reform.
"We have some of the finest most intelligent leaders in law enforcement standing behind me. We were left out," he said.
Mass. police chiefs criticize lawmakers on rushing police reform bill
I attended that
police chief union
gig at the AMC Theater in Framingham and took some 140 pictures.
I examined the pictures and this is what I saw.
An average police chief is paid over $150,000 a year, but they still have three police chief unions used to bully the towns, cities and state.
EIN: employee identification number
Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association Foundation Inc
Western Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association Inc
Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association Incorporated
|Letter: Qualified immunity's magical power||July 28, 2020|
|Harold J. Wolfe||Metrowest Daily News|
It is a form of sovereign immunity less strict than absolute immunity
The MWDN article on the passing of the police reform bill on July 14 mentions the concept of qualified immunity 10 times.
The doctrine of qualified immunity grants government officials performing discretionary functions immunity from civil suits unless the plaintiff shows that the official violated "clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known." It is a form of sovereign immunity less strict than absolute immunity.
Immunities aren't all that difficult to grasp. If the law is a vast set of rules defining what we can and cannot accomplish in a court of law, immunity is simply a device by which a judge declares a person off limits.
We are told the judges created it; but under Article I of the U.S. Constitution, only Congress can make law; under Article IV, only the Constitution and law made pursuant to it, not in derogation of it, are the Supreme Law of the Land; and under Article VI, all judges are sworn to support "This Constitution". The U.S. Constitution does not make any references to the concept of immunity.
It would seem that they who have immunity, have simply given themselves immunity by going into the pre-Constitutional past and extracted it from Common Law. They felt entitled to this right of immunity. The concept of common law is only brought up twice in the U.S. Constitution, both occurrences are in the Seventh Amendment.
Common law is a large historical cesspool of legal decisions from which one may draw definitively contentious legal opinions. Since Common Law precedes the U.S. Constitution, it references the concept of Sovereign Immunity.
Extracting the concept of immunity from common law is merely extracting magical powers from the pre-Constitutional days. The judiciary is saying "We had these magical powers then, and we sure as hell intend to keep these magical powers."
We are told repeatedly by the judiciary that no one is above the law but this is pure fiction. If immunity exists, then some people are indeed above the law, plain and simple. The concept of any immunity has as much legal standing as the infallibility of the Pope.
If I could go a little while without being totally ashamed of my Framingham state senator Karen Spilka, I would be so happy.
|House approves sweeping police reform bill in a 93-66 vote after 35 hours of debate||July 25, 2020|
|Chris Van Buskirk, State House News Service||Metrowest Daily News|
Rep. Russell Holmes, a past chairman of the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus, spoke to reporters after the end of the marathon session while Rep. Nika Elugardo sat nearby. [Sam Doran/SHNS]
And on the third day, after sessions that ran for a collective 35 hours, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a sweeping police reform and accountability bill that seeks to certify all law enforcement officers in the state and curb the use of force tactics by police.
The bill, representing the House's attempt at addressing calls to counter systemic racism and force changes within law enforcement, largely stayed true to core principals the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus put forward early last month.
Republicans and a significant number of Democrats opposed the bill, but Democrats who control the House were able to pass it on Friday at 10 p.m. on a 93-66 vote.
The legislation will likely head next to six-member House-Senate conference committee for resolution, but the bill's negotiators have a short window - seven days - to try to get a consensus bill to Gov. Charlie Baker, who had proposed his own police accountability bill. The Senate approved its bill on a 30-7 vote. Formal legislative sessions, where controversial matters are settled, are set to end for 2020 on Friday, July 31.
The House bill creates an independent Massachusetts Police Standards and Training Commission that would be responsible for licensing all law enforcement in the state every three years. Members of the commission would have the authority to decertify an officer for misconduct, including bias, conviction of a felony, submission of false timesheets, and use of excessive force.
"Everybody had to give up something here to get to a common good, right. And sometimes that's where life takes you. So these are moments that are historical and unique, challenging, but these are profile of courage moments," chair of the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus Rep. Carlos Gonzalez told reporters after Friday's session. "Both chambers want to get something across to the governor and get something that can be approved by the governor, but also veto-proof in both chambers."
The House vote suggests negotiators may need to work with Baker to craft a bill he is willing to sign. Want news like this sent straight to your inbox? Head over to MetroWestDailyNews.com to sign up for alerts and make sure you never miss a thing. You pick the news you want, we deliver.
With the slightly differing versions of police reform passed in both branches, the Legislature has begun to answer at least some of the calls from protestors to address police brutality after the killing of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. For weeks demonstrators gathered by the thousands, showing their support for the Black Lives Matter movement and making it clear that they were seeking strong reforms.
The bill takes on qualified immunity, an issue that drew contentious debate in the Senate last week, by tying the court-made doctrine in the case of police directly to the licensing process and revoking immunity in any case that results in decertification. The House also proposes creating a commission to study qualified immunity and directs the panel to report findings by March 31, 2020, addressing concerns of police unions that the impact of the doctrine is not widely understood.
One amendment would have pushed off the effective date of several sections in the bill dealing with qualified immunity until the commission released its final report. The amendment was rejected on a 72-87 vote, with Rep. Bradford Hill (R-Ipswich) arguing that lawmakers should not so quickly approve and implement changes to a "complicated issue" without first studying its ramifications.
Gov. Charlie Baker rolls out 'first step' of police reform that would create a licensing system for police and creating a statewide database tracking system
House Speaker Robert DeLeo first pledged to help assemble an omnibus piece of legislation in early June and said his goal was to get the bill to Baker's desk by July 31. The Senate released its bill July 6 and approved it July 14 after overcoming a difficult rollout and a lengthy session with a final vote taking place after 4 a.m.
DeLeo said the legislation was difficult to discuss and debate but respect was held on both sides.
"I don't think that people on either side had any anger at the other side," DeLeo told the News Service Friday night. "But having said that I think we wanted to try to get it as right to make sure that everyone had the proper protections, whether it was people Black and Brown or whether it was the members of the police force to make sure that everyone was treated fairly."
Carol Rose, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Association of Massachusetts, said the bill "does not reflect the fierce urgency that deadly police violence against Black people demands. Instead, it reflects the depth of entrenched opposition to necessary police reform. Police unions and officers used the weapon of fear to maintain the status quo and undermine even very moderate reforms."
The House bill, if signed into law, "will not help victims of violence hold police accountable," Rose added, calling for an end to qualified immunity and the empowerment of "victims of police violence to seek justice for the harms they have suffered and to hold abusive officers directly accountable."
Among the various permanent commissions the bill creates, one on the status of African Americans would attempt to help lawmakers create solutions to discrimination and issues facing the Black community. The legislation also bans the use of facial technology, chokeholds, and regulates the use of tear gas and rubber bullets unless officers have no other options to protect public safety.
A push to completely ban the use of tear gas and other chemical weapons by police officers in the House version failed Thursday after Rep. Mike Connolly's amendment died on a 38-120 vote. Rep. Jack Patrick Lewis publicly supported the amendment comparing the use of such weapons to scenes of the "horrors of war and authoritarian regimes."
Much of the debate in the House took place behind closed doors and on conference calls and House leaders packed bundles of proposed changes into three consolidated amendments, an approach that limited some public debate. The first dealt with the standards that must be met in order for a preliminary inquiry into an officer's conduct to be launched and for an officer to be certified.
Under one successful consolidated bundle, the commission could start a preliminary inquiry if it finds "by a preponderance of evidence" that the officer was part of an officer-involved injury or death, committed a felony or misdemeanor or violated state standards. Requirements to decertify an officer remained "by clear and convincing evidence."
One proposal from Rep. Liz Miranda drew emotional speeches from Democrats and a Republican around the issue of further restricting no-knock warrants. The amendment passed on a 83-76 vote Wednesday and only allows law enforcement officers to use the warrants if they have "no reason to believe that minor children or adults over the age of 65 are in the home."
Rep. Timothy Whelan, a former State Police trooper, argued that the amendment put law enforcement lives in danger and recounted a situation where he said he would likely have died if a no-knock had not been utilized.
Prior to the vote, Miranda recalled the death of Breonna Taylor and Ayanna Stanley Jones, both of whom were killed after police entered their households.
"It could have happened in Massachusetts," Miranda said on the House floor, adding that her amendment "is to save women like me, like Breonna, and girls like Ayanna."
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