SPRINGFIELD (WGGB/WSHM) --The death of George Floyd is influencing a change in policing. Many say the Derek Chauvin guilty verdict is just a step in the right direction and now the push is on for national reform. But Massachusetts is one of a few states that has already enacted a significant reform law.
Governor Baker signed the police reform bill into law at the end of last year in response to the killing of George Floyd. We asked the state's attorney general and two key developers of that legislation about what changes are underway.
“It’s an important piece of legislation and it’s well done and well thought through,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said.
Western Mass News got answers from Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey in Springfield on Thursday. We asked about the status of the Bay State's new police reform law signed at the end of December.
“We’re focused now on the implementation of that legislation. And I guess as attorney general my call is a call to all essentially to work together,” Healey said.
Highlights of the law are the Bay State is holding people officers accountable by creating a mandatory certification process for police officers through the Massachusetts Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission (POST). It also creates a process for decertification.
POST can now certify, decertify, suspend, and reprimand officers.
The law defines when officers can use physical force, bans the use of chokeholds, and limits "no-knock" warrants.
We reached out to Brian Kyes, a police chief in Chelsea, who chaired one of the committees to pass police reform in the state. He told Western Mass News every police officer in the state will be certified by the summer and there could be more training.
“Those folks everyone that’s been working and been trained in their respective capacities will be certified on Jul. 1 that’s what the legislation states. And then moving forward, there will be potentially additional requirements for certification on the training side,” Kyes said.
State Representative Carlos Gonzalez of Springfield, who also had a hand in the legislation, told Western Mass News police officers will have to re-up their certification.
“every officer will be licensed. And every officer will have to recertify his licensee standards every three years,” Rep. Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said the police reform governor Charlie Baker signed into law is something Congress and President Joe Biden can use as a guide.
“Massachusetts has been a leader in addressing police reform. And I think the landmark legislation will help the federal government have a better path towards addressing police reform and the George Floyd act, which is being addressed right now,” Gonzalez said.
President Biden is calling on Congress to pass federal police reform. It passed the house but is currently stalled in the Senate.