Community groups and representatives pushing to implement a statewide license for police officers said they are hoping the police unions will play ball.
The effort, which is backed by Mass. Police Reform, the ACLU of Massachusetts, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice and the Massachusetts Black & Latino Legislative Caucus, among others, will get a legislative briefing today at the State House after a community town hall at Roxbury Community College last night.
Establishing a license for police officers is seen as a way to bring statewide standards to law enforcement and remove the ability for problem officers to move from department to department if they lose their certification. Massachusetts is one of six states that do not have a police license.
“I think a lot has to do with what’s happened since Ferguson, (Mo.),” said Saint Louis University Professor Roger Goldman on Boston Herald Radio yesterday.
“There’s just a lot of interest in the idea that we ought to think about licensing for police the way that we do for 150 other professions that we just take for granted. You’re going to be able to have some way to get rid of some officers or other professionals who just shouldn’t be in the field.”
Goldman is the foremost expert on the issue and has helped craft legislation in several states to bring certification and decertification into the fold.
He also understands that this effort cannot be seen as anti-police.
“That’s why the leadership of this effort has to come from the police professionals themselves,” Goldman said. “Otherwise it will look like it’s an anti-police approach and that’s the opposite. So you can get support from ACLU and other groups, but the leadership has to come from within the profession. If it does not, there is no chance it’s gonna get through.”
State Rep. David Vieira, a Falmouth Republican and former sheriff’s deputy, said part of his reasoning for getting behind the effort is to protect the public.
“This is not only to protect the profession and to protect the law enforcement officials, but most importantly it’s to protect the public to make sure that those who are peace officers that are the gatekeeper of our rights and liberties are up to the standard and the challenge that the constitution sets for every American,” said Vieira, who is a co-sponsor of the proposed legislation.
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