FY2012 House 1 Budget Recommendation:
Issues in Brief
Deval L. Patrick, Governor
Timothy P. Murray, Lt. Governor
The Governor’s fiscal year 2012 budget includes an initiative to fund police training through an automobile insurance surcharge. This surcharge will fund two programs: the Municipal Police Training Committee (MPTC) and an annual state police class. The surcharge will provide $4 million at the MPTC for municipal police and college police training and $4 million for the training of a new class of Massachusetts State Police officers. The Department of Fire Services currently uses a similar mechanism to fund training for firefighters though an insurance assessment on homeowner policies. This mechanism has been extremely successful in providing a consistent funding stream for the training program.
The surcharge will apply to private auto insurance policies at a rate of $2.50-$2.75 per policy per year or 21-23 cents per month. Currently, Massachusetts has approximately 3.1 million private auto insurance policies. This surcharge will generate enough revenue to fund both programs.
The MPTC is statutorily mandated to provide municipal police training to the approximately 16,000 municipal police officers in the Commonwealth. Each year, 650 new municipal officers are hired and these officers are required to complete a 21-week, 800-hour recruit academy.
MPTC provides vital support for hundreds of cities and towns across the Commonwealth, many of which are too small to operate their own police training academies. In fiscal year 2011, MPTC is funded at $2.5 million, and MPTC is unable to offer comprehensive programming at this funding level. As a result, training programs have not been updated and there are not enough training instructors. Once the surcharge is fully implemented, it is projected that MPTC will have the available funds to streamline programming and expand the curriculum to improve the ongoing training of municipal police officers.
The MPTC has 5 regional municipal police academies located in Randolph (headquarters), Boylston, Plymouth, Reading and New Bedford. With the additional funding, the MPTC will conduct evaluations of instructors and their material to ensure uniformity. Specialized police training, such as drug raid planning and investigation, arson investigations and K-9 training will have their curricula updated.
Currently, there is no dedicated funding for annual state police classes, which are essential to maintaining a fully-staffed and diverse state police force. In the past, state police classes were typically funded through a line item in the budget or through a supplemental budget; however, both the amount and availability of funding have been inconsistent from year to year. In the past 10 years, there has only been a police class included twice in the operating budget and once in a supplemental budget. This initiative will revise the current curriculum, ensure state police officers are receiving quality in-service trainings, and annually fund training for a state police recruit class.
Historically, the State Police Department holds a training class when the number of troopers reaches a critically low level. The current staffing is at an all time low. This has an adverse impact on overtime costs and deployment flexibility. With the $4 million from the automobile insurance surcharge, the State Police will immediately conduct a class for 150 new troopers. This will bring consistency to state police levels, contain overtime costs and provide deployment efficiencies. In addition, a large number of troopers, approximately 500, are eligible for retirement. An annual state police class will help to address the backfill of troopers in a timely manner so as to not jeopardize public safety.
The surcharge on auto insurance for private policies will provide a needed and dedicated revenue stream to support police training. Given the nexus between the auto insurance industry and policing, the insurance surcharge is an appropriate mechanism to fund police training. The industry not only utilizes data from police citations in conducting risk assessments of current and potential policy holders, but also benefits from specialized areas of police work, including but not limited to, accident reconstruction, insurance fraud investigation, auto theft investigation, and OUI enforcement.
A comprehensive training program for municipal police officers and consistent state police classes will improve community and officer safety.
Prepared by Palak Shah, Executive Office for Administration and Finance ·
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