Governor Charlie Baker signed “An Act Relative to Justice, Equity and Accountability in Law Enforcement in the Commonwealth,” on Thursday, December 31.
The bill makes Massachusetts the 47th state to create a mandatory certification process for police officers.
The law creates the Massachusetts Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission [POST] which will certify officers and create processes for decertification, suspension of certification, or reprimand in the event of certain misconduct. It will also be responsible for investigating and adjudicating claims of misconduct, maintaining databases of training, certification, employment, and internal affairs records for all officers, and certifying law enforcement agencies.
The bill also limits the use of “no-knock” warrants, which now must be issued by a judge. The new law also restricts these warrants to only situations where an officer’s safety would be at risk if they announced their presence. They will also only be available where there are no children or adults over the age of 65 in the home.
There is an exception when those children or older adults are themselves at risk of harm.
A section of the new law addresses actions of law enforcement officers in several scenarios. The law:
- Prohibits the use of chokeholds and training officers to use neck restraints that effect a person’s breathing or blood flow
- Prohibited firing into a fleeing vehicle, unless doing so is both necessary to prevent imminent harm and proportionate to that risk of harm
- Requires an officer who observes another officer using force beyond what is necessary or reasonable to intervene unless doing so would result in imminent harm