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News Testimony of State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump to the House of Representatives on Police Training in the Commonwealth

In a letter to members of the House of Representatives, Auditor Bump calls on the state to take steps to improve police training and accountability.
7/16/2020
  • Office of the State Auditor
  • Division of Local Mandates

Auditor Bump sent the following letter of testimony to members of the House of Representatives:

As you strive to create a police accountability system in the Commonwealth, I ask that you keep the underlying training needs at the forefront of these efforts. As you know, this is an area in which my office has done significant work in recent months. Many of the recommendations from our report, Municipal Police In-Service Training: Funding and Cooperation across the Commonwealth, provide specific steps the Legislature can take to enhance and improve police training and accountability. 

I am encouraged that the Governor and the Senate have taken a significant step toward improved police accountability in defining the POSAC (Police Officer Standards and Certification) system. As Massachusetts is one of four states that does not have a police licensure and certification process, I recommended the Legislature establish such a system. However, proper implementation of the POSAC depends on robust training requirements, adequate funding and enhanced cooperation between the state and municipalities.

In our report, we relayed feedback from police chiefs that pointed to a lack of curriculum diversity, limited course sections and course capacity, a shortage of training instructors, and inadequate funding and facilities as primary reasons the Municipal Police Training Committee (MPTC) is not meeting the training needs of municipal police departments. Additionally, there is no comprehensive central database of completed in-service officer training courses and hours and little oversight as to who gets what training as mandated by law. To address these problems and improve police training and accountability, I ask that you give particular focus to the following items included in the Senate bill (S. 2820):

  • Requiring local police departments to enter training they provide or secure for officers into the training database maintained by the MPTC;
  • Requiring the MPTC to provide annual financial reporting to the Secretary of Administration & Finance, the Legislature, and my office;
  • Establishing a requirement for a strategic plan by the MPTC so its stakeholders, including the Legislature are clear on what it will accomplish to further goals of accountability and standards; and
  • Requiring periodic reviews of the training curriculum provided by the MPTC, including hearing from criminal justice experts outside of law enforcement.

In taking these steps, the Legislature will help the MPTC accomplish its mission and meet the training needs of municipalities.

I thank you for your consideration of these recommendations, and more importantly, for your commitment to this issue. As always, my office stands ready as a resource to you as you tackle this important work.

A PDF copy of Bump's letter of testimony is available here.

Office of the State Auditor 

The Office of State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump (OSA) conducts audits, investigations, and studies to promote accountability and transparency, improve performance, and make government work better.

Division of Local Mandates 

DLM responds to requests from local government leaders to determine if a state law is an unfunded mandate on municipalities. In addition, we serve as a source of information on issues harming municipal budgets, and provide recommendations to address those issues.
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