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Recommendations in the Study of Municipal Police In-Service Training in the Commonwealth

Study calls on the Commonwealth to supplement MPTC funding, bolster facilities, improve guidance on training requirements, and expand accountability.

Table of Contents

1. Revenues from rental vehicle surcharge should supplement, not supplant, existing appropriations

The Legislature is to be commended for its effort to identify new sources of revenue to support the critical mission of equipping municipal police officers with the knowledge and skills they need to effectively protect and serve the public. As this report makes clear, the MPTC does not have sufficient resources to fulfill its statutory mission, and the expenses borne by municipal police departments to fill these gaps are burdensome. While this new source of revenue will assist the MPTC to better provide required courses to police officers, develop new courses, include more course sections, and provide general support, it will not be sufficient to address identified deficiencies in MPTC training activities. Therefore, it is essential that the Legislature maintain its commitment to funding the program’s existing line item.

2. MPTC should develop a long-term strategic plan to address instructional and facility deficiencies

Currently the MPTC attempts to provide four types of training—recruit, mandated in-service, supervisory, and specialized. With its limited facilities and instructional resources, it is unable to do so. The MPTC is advised to engage in strategic planning leading to a report to the Legislature that sets forth the operational and instructional capabilities that will result from a range of projected funding levels. Said plan should address current shortcomings in curriculum and capacity and indicate the range and number of course offerings that could be made available at different funding levels.

Since it is not reasonable to expect that the MPTC will ever be resourced sufficiently to meet all the in-service training needs of all municipal police officers, the report should also delineate which MPTC in-service and specialized training offerings will be of greatest benefit to the widest audience of police officers. The report should also indicate what avenues the MPTC is taking to promote other training opportunities outside of the agency that minimize the costs of municipal police departments. Such opportunities the MPTC could promote include free training programs from other institutions, as well as grant opportunities for training and backfill reimbursement.

Said strategic plan should also make recommendations regarding the adequacy of existing instructional facilities, taking into consideration the types of training that can be offered there as well as their proximity to municipal police officers. The MPTC should engage stakeholders representing police chiefs, police officers, and instructors, as well as the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, in undertaking this assessment and proposal with the goal of eliminating leasing costs paid to other public entities, as well as producing dedicated facilities for police instruction. State-of-the-art facilities also bring the potential to include Emergency Vehicle Operations Course space and firearms ranges in a regional academy for the first time in MPTC history.

Further, the MPTC annual report to the Legislature should account for in-service training activities and planning, as well as updates on curriculum development and trainer certification.

3. The MPTC should improve its guidance to municipal police departments

Since training requirements are not centrally compiled within the Massachusetts General Laws, and are rather interspersed across multiple sections of the laws, municipal police chiefs and police officers need assistance on how to best meet their training goals. The issuance of administrative guidance would help police departments schedule in-service trainings required by law, such as domestic violence training, bicycle safety training, and public safety technology training, which may not be offered by the MPTC each year.97 When the MPTC publishes its annual report, the agency should detail which parts of its in-service curricula the agency will directly develop, and which ones will be created as a result of a collaboration with another agency or an outside vendor.

4. Massachusetts should establish a POST system in the Commonwealth.

A Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) system would provide accountability by ensuring that police officers are licensed and trained in a consistent manner. There is no such licensure requirement in Massachusetts, yet the Commonwealth requires licensure for over 50 other trades and professions such as barbers, plumbers, electricians, and doctors.98 This transition would require legislation to move the MPTC into a POST system and give the MPTC or a statewide authority the power to establish licensure and certification requirements. To support this, the MPTC should continue to review its in-service training curriculum and instructor certification process, particularly through internal and peer evaluations, in order to move training and standards toward those that are used in POST systems. Development of an MPTC strategic plan would also contribute toward this effort.

During the transition from the current system to a POST system, Massachusetts should provide incentives to encourage compliance with the training data entry requirements for the MPTC ACADIS Portal. The new database represents a major investment by the MPTC in better recordkeeping and a good first step toward strongly enforcing training requirements, requiring full participation to realize its potential. A POST legislative mandate would also compel municipalities to transfer training data to the MPTC/POST for oversight purposes. The Commonwealth could offer small grants to offset the start-up costs associated with initial data entry.

97. G.L. c. 6 §§ 116E, 116C, and 116A

98. American Civil Liberties Union, (n.d.). Licensing Police Officers. Retrieved from www.aclum.org/en/licensing-police-officers

Date published: November 18, 2019
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