Report Municipal Police In-Service Training: Funding and Cooperation across the Commonwealth

This municipal impact study examines the structures and funding to provide in-service municipal police training in the Commonwealth. It also provides recommendations to supplement funding, bolster facilities, improve guidance on training requirements, and expand accountability.

Binder organization: Office of the State Auditor Division of Local Mandates
Date published: November 18, 2019

Executive Summary

The training of municipal police in the Commonwealth is a vast and complex undertaking for the thousands of sworn police officers and hundreds of police departments who help enforce the law. Recognizing the need to be at the forefront of emerging policing trends, respond to societal changes and expectations, and evolve in response to the rapid proliferation of new technologies, police across the Commonwealth undertake training every year for veteran officers. This requires a large investment by state and local governments in time, manpower, and money to meet the legal requirements for training. State law and regulation, as well as federal and state case law, provide a complicated context for the required public safety training services.

Competing priorities within departmental staff management and budgetary allocation, historical perceptions of policing, and societal pressures and expectations make this a difficult area of policy. Research from the Division of Local Mandates (DLM) has a unique perspective through its charge to measure the impact of state law and regulation on municipalities. This report results from discussions with a wide range of participants in law enforcement, academia, the legal profession, and criminal justice reform. We reflect on issues of finance for police in-service training, as well as operations related to professionalism in policing and its legal framework.

For several years, the Commonwealth and the country have been engaged in major discussions regarding training and practices for policing in response to widely noticed incidents regarding law enforcement officers. This may incur a civil liability for a municipality, or lead to investigations through the civil and criminal justice systems. Yet, over time, state funding for police training has not kept pace with the demands placed on police officers as they respond to incidents involving issues of mental health, substance use disorders, and trauma.

There have been several commissions at the state and federal levels in the past decade that studied issues of police training and accountability, resulting in multiple state proposals and legal changes regarding public safety funding and police training. This report furthers that work as it contains a series of findings and recommendations that shine a light on ideas to improve the municipal police training environment, leading to better outcomes for police officers and the communities they serve.

Below is a summary of our findings and recommendations, with links to each page listed.

Finding 1

The Municipal Police Training Committee (MPTC) is not meeting the in-service and specialized training needs of municipal police departments.

  1. There is a lack of curriculum diversity in training courses held by the MPTC.
  2. There are limited training course sections and insufficient course capacity.
  3. There is a shortage of training instructors.

Finding 2

The MPTC lacks the revenue needed to fulfill its training obligations, resulting in increased costs to municipal police departments.

  1. The MPTC spent between $1 million and $1.5 million on statewide in-service training in fiscal year 2019.
  2. Local police departments spent $22.8 million during fiscal year 2019 to meet training requirements and related costs such as overtime and backfill.

Finding 3

MPTC rules, regulations, and statutory language are hard to find, unclear, outdated, and limited in scope.

  1. Statutes that govern police training lay out requirements that are not always met by the MPTC.
  2. There is little guidance to bridge the gap between what the MPTC provides and what police departments must fulfill.

Finding 4

There is a lack of accountability for tracking and meeting training requirements due to an absence of incentives or sanctions for police departments to comply with training mandates.

  1. Massachusetts is one of four states that do not have a police licensure or decertification process.
  2. As many as 30 local police departments may not be meeting the in-service training mandate.
  3. Over 84% of surveyed police chiefs support the implementation of a POST system.

Finding 5

Stakeholders from law enforcement find current MPTC facilities to be inadequate for current training needs.

  1. Aging facilities are not modernized and lack equipment and space for physical fitness and hands-on training.
  2. The academies lack additional classrooms to run more sessions of in-service training.

Recommendation 1

Revenues generated from the rental vehicle surcharge should supplement, not supplant, existing appropriations to fund the mission of the MPTC.

  1. Funding from the surcharge should enable the MPTC to expand training offerings by including more course sections, developing new courses, and providing general support.

Recommendation 2

The MPTC should develop a long-term strategic plan to address instructional and facility deficiencies and submit annual reports to the Legislature to promote accountability and to justify the increases in additional funding resources.

  1. The strategic plan should make recommendations on needed improvements to training facilities.
  2. The strategic plan should identify other training opportunities outside the MPTC to minimize costs for municipal police departments.

Recommendation 3

The MPTC should improve its guidance to municipal police departments as to how to fulfill their responsibilities regarding the in-service training of police officers.

  1. The MPTC should communicate more effectively with local police departments to ensure they are aware of miscellaneous training requirements.

Recommendation 4

Massachusetts should establish a POST system in the Commonwealth.

  1. A POST system would ensure officers are meeting training requirements by establishing standards for police training curricula and programs, and would have the authority to decertify officers.
  2. In its transition to a POST system, the MPTC should continue to evaluate its training curricula and instructor certification processes, and incentivize police departments to comply with entering training data online.

 

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