Debate Over Police Reform Bill To Continue Next Week

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The state Senate will resume discussions about a sweeping police reform bill on Monday, after a rare session was called on Saturday morning over concerns surrounding the legislation.

During a debate in the Senate on Friday, several legislators said they had not been given enough time to review the proposed legislation, and criticized the process for not making the bill available to the public.

According to Senate President Karen Spilka, dialogue with Massachusetts law enforcement will continue over the weekend before the Senate's debate resumes on Monday at 11 a.m.

The proposed police reform bill is entitled "An Act to reform police standards and shift resources to build a more equitable, fair and just commonwealth that values Black lives and communities of color."

The $5 million bill came from a bi-partisan working group created by Senate President Karen Spilka in early June, and co-chaired by state Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz.

The proposed legislation would create several fundamental changes to Massachusetts law enforcement.

It would create a Police Officer Standards and Accreditation Committee, which could certify police officers, and would have subpoena power for investigations. Citizens would be able to submit complaints about law enforcement directly to that committee, and all complaint data would be available online.

According to Chang-Diaz, the bill would also create a Justice Reinvestment Workforce Development Fund to make grants for employment opportunity programs for low-income communities.

It would also curtail the use of tear gas and rubber bullets, it would ban the use of chokeholds, and it would force officers to intervene if they witnessed misconduct by a colleague.

Before the filing deadline on Tuesday, the proposal received more than 140 amendments from legislators. Several points were expected to prompt a lengthy debate in the state Senate, like the issue of "qualified immunity" for officers.

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(Photo: Getty Images)

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