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Appendix B in the Study of Municipal Police In-Service Training in the Commonwealth—Methodology

Information about how this study was conducted.

Table of Contents

Methodology

The Municipal Police Training Committee (MPTC) board’s statutory obligations are to develop, deliver, and enforce training standards of municipal, University of Massachusetts, and environmental police officers of the Commonwealth. To better understand how the board fulfills these core functions, the Division of Local Mandates (DLM) reviewed, among other relevant sources of information, the following sources:

The MPTC Executive Director’s Chiefs Newsletter. The Chiefs Newsletter, the primary source for the MPTC executive director to communicate with police chiefs, was published an average of two times annually online from October 2009 through June 2019, and 24 newsletters were reviewed by DLM. Each of the newsletters we reviewed contained as many as 10 pages of police training and other relevant information aimed to assist police chiefs with ensuring their officers have the best training information, opportunities, and support available.

The MPTC Board’s Monthly Meeting Reports. In addition to the Chiefs Newsletter issued by the MPTC executive director, the MPTC board publishes online reports containing the minutes of its monthly meetings. DLM examined the minutes of the board’s monthly meetings held from January 2017 through September 2019; 32 meeting reports were analyzed in total. Each report contains relevant updates on the MPTC budget, police training activities, and progress toward current initiatives.

Overall, these two methods of communication by the executive director and the board provide the framework of implementation of the MPTC’s primary statutes. They also work to fill in the details of compliance with statutory training requirements by municipal police departments and law enforcement officers. Taken together, these communication efforts, alongside webpages from the MPTC website, enable the agency to provide police chiefs, officers, and other law enforcement personnel with the following information:

  • Open training sites (both MPTC-operated and MPTC-authorized), up-to-date classroom schedules and seating availability, and summaries of recent discussions related to, for example, approving additional MPTC-authorized training academies;
  • New recruit, full-time veteran, police chief, and reserve/intermittent officer training curriculum requirements the MPTC has developed, along with continuing required curricula;
  • Officer training reporting requirements via the MPTC ACADIS portal;
  • Instructor qualification and certification provisions;
  • Pending amendments to recruit training regulations from their Police Standards Subcommittee;
  • Recent court cases that impact policing and potential negligent training liability concerns;
  • The current status of the MPTC’s budget and discussions on efforts to increase state revenue, and priorities for any new revenue sources secured (e.g., the vehicle rental surcharge); and
  • Other updates as necessary, including MPTC staff contact information.

MPTC-Operated and MPTC-Authorized Recruit Officer and In-Service Training Sites. MPTC meeting minutes provide enrollment and graduation updates on the recruit police academies, while the MPTC website and those of the training facilities themselves provide more specific information on recruit, in-service, and other related law enforcement instruction, as detailed. The MPTC board annually determines the curriculum for in-service training at MPTC-operated facilities and must approve MPTC-authorized sites, but the police chiefs of the regions in which the facilities are located also recommend additional courses they believe are important to their police officers.

We also sought out additional information to guide our research with the following methods:

Police Chiefs’ Survey. In order to assess the cost impacts of in-service police training across municipal police departments in Massachusetts, DLM conducted a survey in January 2019 on police chiefs’ perceptions on state-mandated training. Quantitative and qualitative data were analyzed from survey responses by municipal police officers across the Commonwealth. Our survey asked a total of 15 questions that were meant to assess the costs of police departments’ in-service programs, the size of their police forces, and police chiefs’ opinions on MPTC programming and facilities. In light of recommendations that Massachusetts should have a Police Officer Standards and Training system, a question was included to gauge the opinion of police chiefs. Summary statistics of our survey can be viewed in Appendix D.

Further methods were approached to estimate the number of full-time, sworn police officers in the Commonwealth, as well as estimated in-service budget costs, overtime costs, and the number of officers using MPTC-operated facilities for in-service training. The following table summarizes these estimates with a more detailed explanation below.

 

Total from Survey Responses

Response Rate

Extrapolation Formula

Estimated Total

Projected Number of Police Officers

6,528 officers

43.9%

(6,528 X 100) / 43.9

14,870 officers

Estimated Statewide In-Service Training

$3,463,020

39.7%

(3,463,020 X 100) / 39.7

$8,722,973

Estimated Overtime and Backfill Costs

$5,565,323

39.30%

(5,565,323 X 100) / 39.3

$14,161,128

 

Projected Number of Full-Time Officers. DLM received responses from 138 out of 351 municipalities, representing 43.9% of the Commonwealth’s resident population. Population estimates for each municipality were based on data from the 2017 American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau. Respondents reported the number of full-time officers that were hired in their police departments, totaling up to 6,528 sworn officers. (See above chart.) We projected the number of full-time officers in the Commonwealth by multiplying the total number we received (6,528) by 100 and dividing it by the response rate (43.9%), bringing our estimates to 14,870 sworn full-time officers.

However, MPTC staff members informed us that there are 17,829 active municipal officers in the Commonwealth according to the ACADIS database. The database did not include most of the Boston police force, which could increase the MPTC’s estimate to nearly 20,000 officers. Due to various estimates we received during the course of drafting this report, we expect that the number of full-time police officers in Massachusetts should be between 14,000 and 18,000 officers. This is consistent with the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association (MCOPA) estimates of the state’s municipal police force, which it anticipates is between 15,000 and 16,000 officers. Please note that a higher number of police officers in the state will increase estimated municipal costs of police training, as well as a lower share of officers attending in-service training classes at the MPTC academies.

Projected In-Service Budget Costs. Out of our 138 survey respondents, DLM received information about in-service budgets for fiscal year (FY) 2019 from 124 municipalities, representing 39.7% of the state’s resident population. Among these municipalities, their total in-service budgetary costs were $3,463,020. We followed the same method to project the number of officers to determine statewide in-service costs. We project that municipalities statewide incurred $8,722,973 for in-service training.

Projected Overtime and Backfill Costs. We received information on overtime costs from 118 out of 138 respondents, representing 39.3% of the state’s resident population. Respondents’ total overtime costs were $5,565,323. Similar to our last two methods, we estimated this cost by multiplying the total by 100 and dividing that number by the response rate for this expense. We project statewide overtime costs are $14,161,128.

Projected Number of In-Service Courses / Officers Attending MPTC-Provided In-Service Courses. DLM acquired in-service training schedules from the five MPTC-operated academies for the 2019 training year, including courses held by the agency at the Yarmouth Police Department. MPTC in-service training schedules provide weekly sessions for officers to fulfill the mandated courses for their 40-hour in-service requirement. We counted 110 weekly in-service training sessions in total. Talks with MPTC staff also revealed that the average in-service training session at an MPTC academy held 40 seats. DLM staff multiplied that number by the number of weekly sessions, bringing the total to 4,400 officers taking in-service courses through the MPTC. We also estimated that there are at least 3,409 sworn officers from large municipalities like Boston, Springfield, Lowell, and Worcester, which was calculated from survey data, e-mail communications, and budgetary information. Because these four municipalities have their own police academies and run in-service training for their officers, we did not want to include them in our final count. We believe that at least 11,461 out of 14,870 officers are eligible to receive in-service programming from the MPTC. Because the agency can only seat 4,400 officers, we project that at most 38.39% (4,400/11,461) of the eligible police population could take in-service training with the MPTC. However, MPTC staff members informed us that they expect to have up to 4,000 full-time municipal police officers attending in-service training at the regional academies in training year 2020.

Projected Number of Municipal Police Departments Not Meeting Mandated In-Service Training Hours. In our survey, we asked police chiefs how many hours of annual in-service training their departments provide to their full-time officers under their training program. We received 13 responses from departments not meeting the in-service training mandate, with 39 or fewer hours, and of those 13, there were 4 departments that had 0 hours of in-service training. To estimate the total number of municipal police departments not meeting this mandate, we multiplied these totals by 100 and divided them by the percentage of the state’s residents represented by all 138 respondents in our survey (43.9%). We project that 30 departments have training programs with 39 hours or fewer, and of those 30, we project that 9 departments conduct 0 hours of training.

Meetings with Stakeholders. To further inform our results from the police chiefs’ survey, DLM talked to various stakeholders in law enforcement, as well as the MPTC, to have an understanding of municipal police training in Massachusetts and their sentiments about mandated in-service training. These meetings included:

  • A meeting with MCOPA on October 19, 2018;
  • A meeting with the Massachusetts Police Association and Massachusetts Coalition of Police on December 27, 2018;
  • Meetings with the Municipal Police Training Committee’s (MPTC) executive director and staff on January 15, 2019, May 24, 2019, September 19, 2019, and November 4, 2019; and
  • A meeting with staff members from the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security on July 31, 2019.

DLM also communicated with stakeholders via email correspondence and/or telephone conversations. These conversations included:

  • Email correspondence with the Springfield Police Department from May to June 2019; and
  • Email correspondence with the Worcester Police Department from May to June 2019.

DLM had other conversations with stakeholders outside of law enforcement via in-person meetings, email correspondence, and/or telephone. Like our other stakeholders, we wanted to understand the scope of police training and discipline from a perspective outside of law enforcement, such as police decertification and accountability. We had the following communications:

  • Email correspondence and telephone conversations with staff members from the Department of Mental Health from June to August 2019;
  • A meeting with Rahsaan Hall from the ACLU of Massachusetts on September 18, 2019;
  • A meeting with Brian Corr from the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement on September 19, 2019;
  • A meeting with Dr. Jack McDevitt from Northeastern University on September 27, 2019;
  • Email correspondence and telephone conversations with Roger Goldman from the Saint Louis University School of Law in October 2019.
Date published: November 18, 2019
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