SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The death of George Floyd has sparked a call for police reform nationwide.

The question is now, what's being done right in Massachusetts to better our communities?

Protesters in cities across the country are asking for change - following the death of George Floyd while he was in custody from former police officers of the Minneapolis Police Department.

"Massachusetts is one of six states that doesn't have a statewide program for licensing police officers," said Springfield Technical Community College's Criminal Justice Associate Professor Seth Dupuis.

Dupuis told Western Mass News there's room for improvement here in Massachusetts and without that program, it can make it hard to regulate hiring, training, and accountability procedures.

"The state has been very slow at changing," Dupuis noted.

Here in Massachusetts, there is currently no statutory minimum education requirement to become a police officer...

"Less than half of the cities in Massachusetts are civil service. The ones that aren't, there's no requirement for education whatsoever," Dupuis explained.

Cities and towns with civil service police departments only require officers to have their GED or high school diploma.

"There's evidence that shows that someone who has a college degree is a better critical thinker [and] problem-solving. They're able to handle conflict more effectively," Dupuis said.

Western Mass News spoke to Senator Eric Lesser on what's being done to reform policing here in the Bay State.

"We are going to do a reform package, a very aggressive one, one I hope will be one of the most far-reaching in the country," Lesser explained.

But there are currently already two proposed pieces of legislation that have yet to be passed and Dupuis said they should be.

"The first is House Bill 2146 which forms a special committee to create statewide policy standards for recruitment and training," Dupuis explained.

The second is House Bill 3810.

"That would require someone to have an Associate's Degree to become a police officer here in Massachusetts," Dupuis said.

While those bills wait to be voting on at the State House - one thing remains true - both police and protesters have the same goal, which is to stop these tragic and avoidable events from happening again.

"I think we need legislation and we need laws changed but there's a lot that can happen today in terms of the conduct of policing in terms of the culture around law enforcement," Dupuis noted.

To see if your city or town has a civil service police department, you can click here.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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