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Press Release POST Commission releases Guidance on Developmentally Appropriate De-escalation and Disengagement Tactics, Procedures for Minor Children

Commission Delivers Guidance as Part of Massachusetts Police Reform Bill for Alternative to Use of Force
For immediate release:
6/30/2021
  • POST Commission

Media Contact for POST Commission releases Guidance on Developmentally Appropriate De-escalation and Disengagement Tactics, Procedures for Minor Children

Lon Povich

Boston — The Massachusetts Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission (POST Commission) today released guidance on developmentally appropriate de-escalation and disengagement tactics, techniques, and procedures and other alternatives to the use of force, for minor children. The Legislature required the POST Commission to issue this guidance by June 30, 2021 as part of the Commonwealth’s police reform bill passed in December 2020.

To set the context and as set out in the introduction of the POST Commission’s guidance, the Commission collected data and reviewed research describing the notable attributes of minor children, members of law enforcement, and communities, all of which inform the interactions law enforcement officers have with minor children.

“The POST Commission issued its guidance to suggest productive ways for law enforcement to engage and build positive relationships with youth while keeping communities safe—based on facts, knowledge and scientific research,” said Hon. Margaret R. Hinkle (Ret.), Chair of the POST Commission. “We believe this guidance represents a balanced approach and is available for Law Enforcement Agencies across the Commonwealth to consider as part of their efforts to strengthen community policing. I am grateful to the members of the Commission for their collaboration, hard work, and expertise that resulted in this guidance.”

Scientific research shows that minor children are uniquely vulnerable to violence and trauma compared to adults, and as such the Commission noted that minors are more likely to have positive encounters with law enforcement officers who are well trained and supported to understand their development. Conversely, members of law enforcement with increased exposure to violence and threats on the job may also experience stress and should have access to appropriate support and resources—including post-encounter crisis debriefing. The POST Commission also reported on research finding that factors at the community level, ranging from crime rates to socioeconomic status, can impact the attitudes that minor children have toward police. Based on this assessment, the POST Commission stated that unbiased and respectful interactions built on positive community experiences are likely to elicit cooperation and trust between members of law enforcement and minor children.

Considering this context, the POST Commission outlined guidance for Law Enforcement Agencies that covered four different areas of focus: de-escalation and disengagement, education and training, trauma, and community.

As required by the Criminal Justice Reform Bill, the guidance was not issued as a regulation, and the POST Commission expects that modifications will be made over time as new knowledge and scientific evidence inform the outcomes of interactions between law enforcement and minor children.

Click here for a copy of the Post Commission’s guidance

About the POST Commission

The POST Commission is a 9-member commission appointed by the governor and attorney general and includes six members from outside law enforcement, a current police chief, retired Superior Court judge and a social worker. The Commission was established as part of the criminal justice reform enacted in Chapter 253 of the Acts of 2020. By establishing the Commission, the Commonwealth is taking an important step to improve public safety and increase trust between members of law enforcement and the communities they serve.

Members of the POST Commission:

  • Hon. Margaret R. Hinkle (Ret.), Chair of the POST Commission
  • Dr. Hanya H. Bluestone, Licensed Psychologist
  • Lawrence "Larry" Calderone, Chair & President of the Massachusetts Law Enforcement Policy Group and President of the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association
  • Clementina M. Chéry, Ordained Senior Chaplain and Co-Founder & CEO of the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute in Boston
  • Larry Ellison, Boston Police Department Detective
  • Marsha V. Kazarosian, Experienced Trial Attorney
  • Charlene D. Luma, Licensed Social Worker and Chief of the Victim Witness Assistance Program for the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office
  • Kimberly P. West, Experienced Trial Attorney
  • Michael J. Wynn, Pittsfield Chief of Police Click here to learn more about the POST Commission.

Click here to learn more about the POST Commission.

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Media Contact for POST Commission releases Guidance on Developmentally Appropriate De-escalation and Disengagement Tactics, Procedures for Minor Children

POST Commission 

The Massachusetts Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission is charged with creating a mandatory certification process for police officers, as well as processes for decertification, suspension of certification, or reprimand in the event of certain misconduct.
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