Gov. Charlie Baker signed sweeping police reform legislation on Thursday that will create a mandatory certification process for law enforcement and launch the nation’s first civilian-led police oversight board with subpoena power and decertification authority.
Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz, a Jamaica Plain Democrat, lamented that many things “over-policed communities pleaded for” are not in the bill, including binding definitions of use of force. But she said there was much for advocates to celebrate.
State Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz, who served on the police reform conference committee, and state Representative Russell Holmes, who has long pushed for many of the changes included in the bill, join Jim Braude to discuss the long-awaited police reform bill.
"I'm really satisfied with the total product of this bill," Sen. Chang-Diaz said. "...It is a final package that strikes a lot of wins for accountability, for community voice at the table of power, for changing our vision for what public safety is and means from one of force and punishment to one of de-escalation and helping and prevention."
The Massachusetts Senate plans to vote Thursday on a wide-ranging bill that would create a process for certifying and de-certifying officers and impose new limits on use of force, including a ban on chokeholds and restrictions on the use of tear gas.
Mobilized by the social unrest gripping the country, the state’s top political leaders of color gathered Tuesday to urge action across all levels of government, their words underwritten by a docket of resolutions, policies, and legislation they say are designed to transmute anger into change, increasing police accountability and chipping away at structural racism.
“Ensuring people have safe, reliable housing throughout this crisis is one of the most important things we can do to flatten the curve and save lives right now,” said state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz (D-2nd Suffolk).
“This is both a critical and efficient step in delivering on the requirement that money from marijuana tax revenues be spent on restorative economic development for communities harmed by the War on Drugs,” said state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz, the chair of the joint committee.
Massachusetts will invest an additional $1.5 billion in K-12 public education over the next seven years after Gov. Charlie Baker signed a funding reform bill, touted by supporters as a generational change, into law Tuesday.
Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, D-Boston, a former Education Committee chair and a leader on education funding reform, said, “This bill stands as our commitment that, in Massachusetts, zip code must not be destiny.”
Fulfilling the promise of public education as the great equalizer is our next big goal. Bay Staters believe in it. It’s a goal our constitution anchors us to. Now, that collective effort in advocating, crafting policy, and working together has given us a chance to deliver on it.
Chang-Diaz noted that mass shootings, especially those involving middle-class white children, make headlines. But she asked fellow lawmakers to have that same “sense of horror, unacceptance, urgency when shootings happen in Dorchester or Roxbury or Springfield or Holyoke or other urban communities, when the child’s riddled body is black or brown and their family is low-income, doing their best to make ends meet.”
“There’s no reason it had to be this way, the situation we find ourself in now is due to years of deferred maintenance. Deferring maintenance is a habit that State leaders need to break,” Chang-Diaz said.
“At what point does ‘we’re working on it’ become justice delayed and denied?” Chang-Diaz said the Senate has passed the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission multiple times. “The Legislature has had nearly four years to consider the recommendations — that’s half a kid’s elementary school years,” she said. “There’s no good reason that students will go back to school with no foundation funding plan in place.”