Police Accountability in the Commonwealth
The study found that, while Massachusetts has one of the highest hourly requirements for in-service police training in the nation, at 40 hours annually, it has no mechanism to enforce these training requirements. This responsibility is instead left up to cities and towns. The study estimates that as many as 30 local police departments may not be meeting the Commonwealth’s in-service training requirement. The state board responsible for this training, the Municipal Police Training Committee (MPTC), does not yet have a mechanism to get reliable data from municipalities to build an accountability database.
Additionally, the study shows that Massachusetts is one of the few states in the nation that does not have a police licensure and certification process. The lack of such a system means there is no statewide mechanism to hold officers accountable for meeting professional and training standards. This makes it harder to ensure that a police officer that has been terminated (or resigned under pressure) from one city’s police department for abuse or violations of protocols is not hired in a different community. Massachusetts requires licensure for over 50 other trades and professions, such as barbers, plumbers, electricians, and doctors, but does not require it for police officers.
Support for POST
Surveys and conversations conducted by our office show overwhelming support for a POST system in Massachusetts.
Eighty-four percent of Bay State police chiefs surveyed by our office indicated they support establishing POST. Police chiefs who were supportive of a POST system believe that the system would increase uniformity, standardization, transparency, and professionalism within police training. Some police chiefs saw the potential for departmental oversight through POST, ensuring statewide compliance with minimum standards and clearly defined regulations.
We also found consistent support for Massachusetts becoming a POST state from conversations with stakeholders outside of law enforcement, such as legal advocates and academics.
Establishing POST in Massachusetts
At the time of our study, leadership within the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security had an internal working group examining the establishment of a POST system.
|June 9, 2020