Video: Police Decertification Legislative Briefing 3/29

Tuesday 3/29 Legislative Briefing at the MA State House Senate briefing rm. 428 (11 – 12 noon) Keynote presenter: Prof. Roger Goldman Moderated by: Rahsaan Hall Panel: Rep. David Vieira, Lisa Thurau, Brigitt Keller Hosted by: State Senator Jamie Eldridge & MA Black & Latino Legislative Caucus

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Video: Police Decertification Town Hall 3/28

Monday 3/28 Town Hall Forum at RCC Media Arts Bldg (6 – 8:30 pm) Keynote presenter: Prof. Goldman Moderated by: Rahsaan Hall (Dir. Racial Justice Program ACLU of MA) Panelists: Rep. David Vieira (R-East Falmouth), Brigitt Keller (Ex. Dir. NPAP) Ivan Espinoza Madrigal (Ex. Dir. Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights),Read More

Read More3-28 panel

Reform police practices to improve respect for basic human and civil rights, reforms should address concerns about policing, racial discrimination/profiling, diversity, excessive/deadly force and corruption.

Video: Police Decertification Legislative Briefing 3/29


Tuesday 3/29 Legislative Briefing at the MA State House Senate briefing rm. 428 (11 – 12 noon)
Keynote presenter: Prof. Roger Goldman
Moderated by: Rahsaan Hall
Panel: Rep. David Vieira, Lisa Thurau, Brigitt Keller
Hosted by: State Senator Jamie Eldridge & MA Black & Latino Legislative Caucus

Video: Police Decertification Town Hall 3/28

3-28 panel

Monday 3/28 Town Hall Forum at RCC Media Arts Bldg (6 – 8:30 pm)
Keynote presenter: Prof. Goldman
Moderated by: Rahsaan Hall (Dir. Racial Justice Program ACLU of MA)
Panelists: Rep. David Vieira (R-East Falmouth), Brigitt Keller (Ex. Dir. NPAP) Ivan Espinoza Madrigal (Ex. Dir. Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights), Howard Friedman (Civil RIghts / Police Misconduct Attorney)



All across the United States citizens, voters and taxpayers are demanding that local and state police departments are reformed to better handle excessive force, deadly force and corruption. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts needs serious police reform in policies and practices.


city hall

Reform Overview

  1. Restore the CO-OP and grant subpoena powers
  2. Establish a true civilian review board
  3. Streamline the BPD complaint process and internal affairs

Target: City of Boston

Reform Goals

  • Restore good faith of community, repair disconnect and increase public trust.

  • Establish and maintainPolice Legitimacyusing the practice of “Procedural Justice”

  • Transform BPD’s organization and culture as it relates to deadly force, excessive force and police brutality

  • Update BPD’s Use of Force Policy to meet or exceed current national standards

  • Require De-escalation training for officers and include an evaluation component.

More on De-escalation:
BPD should establish an annual requirement for officers at the rank of sergeant and below to undergo a minimum number of hours of de-escalation training and formalize assessments of de-escalation tactics in Advanced Officer Skills Training (AOST) and Reality-Based Training (RBT). BPD should also devote a significant portion of its defensive tactics training to de-escalation.

1. Civilian Review Board

For years citizens and organizations have demanded a civilian review board. When public political pressure was at its height former Mayor Menino initiated the CO-OP (Community Ombudsman Oversight Panel) in efforts to appease the public and stave off public criticism. BOSTON NEEDS AN ACTUAL CIVILIAN REVIEW BOARD. This board should be made of 8-12 members of the general public from all walks of life reflecting the diversity of Boston and not appointed by the Mayor. Members should be nominated and/or apply and once chosen should be provided basic training in BPD standard operational procedures, the Internal Affairs process and BPD regulations as it pertains to conduct, excessive force and deadly force.

Note: For a listing of civilian review boards across the country as of 2007 see Roster of U.S. Civilian Oversight Agencies

(From “Fighting Police Abuse: A Community Action Manual” ACLU Report | December 1, 1997 | section 4; goal 1)

Civilian review works, if only because it’s at least a vast improvement over the police policing themselves. Nearly all existing civilian review systems —

  • reduce public reluctance to file complaints

  • reduce procedural barriers to filing complaints

  • enhance the likelihood that statistical reporting on complaints will be more complete

  • enhance the likelihood of an independent review of abuse allegations

  • foster confidence in complainants that they will get their “day in court” through the hearing process

  • increase scrutiny of police policies that lead to citizen complaints

  • increase opportunities for other reform efforts.

Why Is Civilian Review Important?

Civilian review establishes the principle of police accountability. Strong evidence exists to show that a complaint review system encourages citizens to act on their grievances. Even a weak civilian review process is far better than none at all.

A civilian review agency can be an important source of information about police misconduct. A civilian agency is more likely to compile and publish data on patterns of misconduct, especially on officers with chronic problems, than is a police internal affairs agency.

Civilian review can alert police administrators to the steps they must take to curb abuse in their departments. Many well-intentioned police officials have failed to act decisively against police brutality because internal investigations didn’t provide them with the facts.

Ten Principles For An Effective Civilian Review Board

  1. Independence. The power to conduct hearings, subpoena witnesses and report findings and recommendations to the public.

  2. Investigatory Power. The authority to independently investigate incidents and issue findings on complaints.

  3. Mandatory Police Cooperation. Complete access to police witnesses and documents through legal mandate or subpoena power.

  4. Adequate Funding. Should not be a lower budget priority than police internal affairs systems.

  5. Hearings. Essential for solving credibility questions and enhancing public confidence in process.

  6. Reflect Community Diversity. Board and staff should be broadly representative of the community it serves.

  7. Policy Recommendations. Civilian oversight can spot problem policies and provide a forum for developing reforms.

  8. Statistical Analysis. Public statistical reports can detail trends in allegations, and early warning systems can identify officers who are subjects of unusually numerous complaints.

  9. Separate Offices. Should be housed away from police headquarters to maintain independence and credibility with public.

  10. Disciplinary Role. Board findings should be considered in determining appropriate disciplinary action. The existence of a civilian review agency, a reform in itself, can help ensure that other needed reforms are implemented. A police department can formulate model policies aimed at deterring and punishing misconduct, but those policies will be meaningless unless a system is in place to guarantee that the policies are aggressively enforced.

EXAMPLE: Tucson, Arizona

In Tucson, Arizona, a Citizens’ Police Advisory Review Board (CPARB) was incorporated into the city’s municipal code in July 1990. Composed of both civilian and police representatives, it has the authority to initiate investigations of controversial incidents or questionable policies, and other oversight functions.

Note: Tucson also has an Independent Police Auditor established as an external source to audit citizen complaint investigations


(Created by the Tucson Code, Sec. 10A-86)


1 — Consult with the governing body from time to time as may be required by the Mayor and [City] Council.

2 — Assist the police in achieving a greater understanding of the nature and causes of complex community problems in the area of human relations, with special emphasis on the advancement and improvement of relations between police and community minority groups.

3 — Study, examine and recommend methods, approaches and techniques to encourage and develop an active citizen-police partnership in the prevention of crime.

4 — Promote cooperative citizen-police programs and approaches to the solutions of community crime

problems, emphasizing the principal that the administration of justice is a responsibility which requires total community involvement.

5 — Recommend procedures, programs and/or legislation to enhance cooperation among citizens of the

community and police.

6 — Strive to strengthen and ensure throughout the community the application of the principle of equal

protection under the law for all persons.

7 — Consult and cooperate with federal, state, city and other public agencies, commissions and committees on matters within the committee’s charge.

8 — The committee may ask for and shall receive from the Police Department, a review of action taken by the Department in incidents which create community concern or controversy.

9 — The committee shall have the authority, should it so desire, to use a specific incident as a vehicle for the examination of police policies, procedures and priorities.

10 — At the discretion and express direction of the Mayor and Council, assume and undertake such other tasks or duties as will facilitate the accomplishment of these goals and objectives.

2. CO-OP ( Community Ombudsman Oversight Panel )

The CO-OP was established by Mayor Menino by executive order in 2007. The CO-OP has

functioned since, somewhat in limbo, with almost no knowledge of its existence by the general public.

The CO-OP was originally a 3 member body of legal professionals appointed solely by the Mayor. The last report was issued in 2013 and the panel has withered with limited support and resources.

Currently, there are only 2 listed members of the CO-OP. THE CO-OP NEEDS TO BE STRENGTHENED AND GRANTED SUBPOENA POWERS. The City Administration needs to:

A) Appoint a 3rd member to the panel immediately (or start over and appoint a new body of three)

B) Begin the process to grant the CO-OP subpoena powers, the ability to initiate its own investigations and launch a citywide awareness campaign to alert the public to its mission and existence.




Reform Overview

  1. Remove investigative and prosecutorial powers from local police and DAs
  2. Establish a statewide commission on policing
  3. Develop a process for de-licensing of officers

Target: Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Statewide Commission on Policing

(Draft in process based on Kay Khan


  1. Establishing an Office of the Special Police Prosecutor to prosecute cases of police abuse. Independent prosecutors are needed because conventional city and county prosecutors are reluctant to bring charges against the same police officers they rely on for evidence in other criminal cases;

  2. Establishing state-mandated civilian police review boards for local police;

  3. Requiring statewide data collection on police abuse and misconduct;

  4. Establishing a state-level decertification process;

State Law – Remove DA’s & Police Departments from investigating & disciplining themselves

Example: Wisconsin

In April of 2014, Gov. Scott Walker signed into law Assembly Bill 409 which has been called “The Bell Law,” this first of its kind legislation in the nation requires that an outside agency investigate officer involved deaths.

Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau

This bill requires each law enforcement agency to have a written policy, subject to the approval of the

law enforcement standards board, regarding the handling of deaths involving a law enforcement

officer. The policy must require a team of investigators consisting of three individuals, two of whom

must be from an agency that does not employ an officer involved in the death being investigated, to

prepare a report and provide it to the district attorney of the county in which the death occurred. The

district attorney must give the report to the board for the review of officer-involved deaths, which this

bill creates and attaches to the Department of Justice. The board must review the report to ensure it

addresses all aspects of the death and may request further information from the investigative team.

The board may then submit recommendations to the district attorney and may forward the report to

any person responsible for the discipline of a law enforcement officer involved in the death.

Certification & Licensing of Police Officers

Goal: Establishing a state-level decertification process

In Massachusetts Certification of Police Officers is handled by The Massachusetts Criminal Justice

Training Council (MCJTC) which operates under the MA Executive Office of Public Safety. All new

police recruits in Massachusetts must graduate from one of the municipal police academies, six

regional police academies or the Massachusetts State Police Academy. All academies in the state

meet requirements set forth by the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training Council.

note: The MCJTC appears to have morphed into the Municipal Police Training Committee (MPTC).

The previous contact info for Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training Council 41 Terrace Hall Ave. Burlington, MA 01803 617-727-7827 is now answered by the MPTC, although via the MPTC website they offer different contact information for Dan Zivkovich, Executive Director (781) 437-0301

– Certification and Licensing of Police Officers

(From “Fighting Police Abuse: A Community Action Manual” ACLU Report | December 1, 1997 | section 4; goal 8)

Every state now has procedures for certifying or licensing police officers. These require all sworn officers to have some minimum level of training. This was one of the advances of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

An important new development is the advent of procedures for decertifying officers. Traditionally, a police officer could be fired from one department but then hired by another. As a result, persons guilty of gross misconduct could continue to work as police officers. Decertification bars a dismissed officer from further police employment in that state (though not necessarily in some other state). Between 1976 and 1983, the Florida Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission decertified 132 police officers.

Standardized procedures for state-level certification/decertification are a worthy goal to pursue. Be aware, however, that the state commission must have sufficient power and resources to investigate misconduct complaints, and must vigorously exercise its authority. And even if it has such power, certification/decertification is only one part of the comprehensive approach that’s needed to achieve meaningful police discipline.

– Revocation of Officer Certification

(From Revocation of Police Officer Certification: A Viable Remedy for Police Misconduct? Saint Louis University Law Journal | Spring, 2001 | By Roger L. Goldman, Professor of Law, Saint Louis University School of Law and Steven Puro, Professor of Political Science, Saint Louis University)

The most common state legislative and administrative approach for addressing police misconduct, which is largely unknown to scholars and the public even though it has been adopted by forty-three states, involves revocation of the officer’s state certificate or license n4 that is issued upon successful completion of statemandated training. As opposed to termination of employment by a local department, which does not prevent the officer from being rehired by a different department, revocation of the certificate prevents the officer from continuing to serve in law enforcement in the state. n5 A state agency, typically called a Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission (POST), n6 has the authority to hold hearings and impose sanctions against [*543] police officers n7 that have engaged in serious misconduct as defined in the statute or regulation. Known as revocation, n8 decertification n9 or cancellation, n10 [*544] this practice has the advantage of insuring that officers cannot continue to practice their profession in the state by suspending or removing state certification. It treats the police profession like any other – if minimum standards of performance are not met, the person loses the privilege of continuing in the profession. n11 Although the focus of this article is on misconduct in the course of the officer’s official duties, grounds for revocation encompass a wide range of activities, including off-duty misconduct. As is true for other professions, a sanction short of revocation is often provided. Florida, for example, provides for revocation, suspension or placement on probationary status for up to two years, retraining and issuance of a reprimand. n12 Except in the case of so-called constitutional officers who hold elective offices, such as sheriffs or constables, revocation applies to everyone – from patrolman to chief. And as discussed below, many state POSTs have jurisdiction over these elected officials. n13”

Many of the states with the power to impose sanctions are doing so with increasing frequency. For example, forty officers had their certificates revoked in 1999 compared to one in 1993, two in 1994, and six in 1995. n21 The reasons included sex with arrestees or inmates, theft, third-degree assault and positive drug tests. n22 In Texas, there were twenty-five suspensions and thirty-three revocations in 1997, compared to 267 suspensions and 146 revocations in 1999. n23”

Traditional remedies for police misconduct fail to address the problem caused by the practice of leaving the decision to hire and fire officers up to local sheriffs and chiefs. This often leads to situations where unfit officers are able to continue to work for a department that is unable or unwilling to terminate them. Even when they are terminated, these officers often go to work for other departments within the state. Although virtually every other profession is regulated by a state board with the power to remove or suspend [*546] the licenses or certificates of unfit members of the profession (e.g., attorneys, physicians, teachers), there has been a longstanding tradition of local control of police without state involvement.”

Without a mechanism at the state or national level to remove the certificate of law enforcement officials who engage in such misconduct, it is likely that there will be more such instances of repeated misconduct. n31 Traditional [*547] remedies do not address the problem. For example, the exclusionary rule prevents prosecutors from using probative evidence seized from a defendant in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights, but it does nothing to punish the officer. n32 Likewise, criminal prosecution of officers is rare, and convincing jurors to convict is extremely difficult. n33 Administrative complaints against the police in front of civilian review boards have been equally ineffective because the department for which the officer works rather than an independent body usually conducts the investigation. n34 Finally, civil damage suits against police officers face the problem of juries, who tend to rule in favor of the police; even if the suit is successful, the officer is often judgment-proof. n35”

Recognizing the need for a law that removes unfit officers from the profession, particularly those engaging in repeated misconduct, most states have adopted revocation laws; n36 four states have enacted such legislation since 1996. n37 The professional organization of POST Directors, the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards & Training (“IADLEST”), in its Model Minimum State Standards, recommends that POSTs be given the authority to both deny and revoke state certification for [*548] law enforcement and corrections officers. n38 The seven states without revocation authority are Hawaii, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Washington. n39”

Major problems with police practices, including racial profiling, brutality and use of false evidence, call into question whether police self-regulation can address these issues. When police officers overstep their authority, there is often a decline in public confidence that can diminish a department’s legitimacy. n49 In November 2000, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission wrote that “police misconduct remains an “incessant’ problem in the United States, and the failure to wipe out abuse and brutality requires wholesale changes.” n50 Revocation of police officer certificates can lessen the amount of police misconduct and should be adopted in those states without such a program.”

Although logic may suggest a relationship between fitness to enter the training academy and fitness to keep the certificate once certified, without the authority to revoke a certificate, states will continue to differentiate between trainees and certified officers. Thus, the New Jersey Police Training Council upheld the dismissal of a trainee from a training academy for testing positive for illegal drugs after a mandatory drug screening, but held that it could not bar the individual for two years from law enforcement employment, concluding it lacked jurisdiction concerning the trainee’s future employment. n176 Noting that the Certificate of Completion awarded to recruit officers is not subject to revocation, the former executive director of the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training Council stated: “The Council has no role in the regulation or enforcement of police discipline other than for

student officers while enrolled in an academy.” n177”

Opposition to revocation comes from a variety of sources. According to the Human Rights Watch study, “of the states we examined … without decertification powers, [it was] largely due to opposition from police unions.” n190 In some states, the ability of local chiefs to handle the matter without the need for state assistance has been given as a reason for the lack of revocation authority. For example, in the view of the Deputy Director of Training at the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training Council, the organizational ability of the chiefs in that state would make it “extremely difficult for an officer to go from one department to another without prior knowledge of the officer’s fitness for duty.”

A nationwide data bank for police officers authorized by Congress along the model of the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), n216 which contains information about errant behavior by medical professionals, would allow states to share data about police officers’ misconduct. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) supported a bill, the Law Enforcement and Correctional Officers Employment Registration Act of 1996, n217 which would have established in the Department of Justice a registry listing all criminal justice agencies for which an officer had worked. Additionally, it would have reported the fact that the officer had his state certification revoked. With the federal government involved in the hiring of 100,000 new law enforcement officers under the COPS program, n218 it clearly has an interest in a system which would help ensure that officers it funds, or with whom these officers work, are not persons who are unfit for the job.”

As law enforcement becomes more accepted as a profession regulated by the state, it is only a matter of time before all states will have the power to revoke the certificate or license of unfit officers, and those states that have weak revocation authority will strengthen it. It is ironic that this power already exists for virtually every other profession but not for police officers with the authority to arrest and use deadly force. The reasons why there has not been a public demand for state power to discipline police include: the tradition of local control of police, so that most people are unaware the state already is heavily involved in training and standards; the absence of public awareness of the kinds of incidents of police misconduct discussed in this article; the assumption that attempts to control police misconduct will hamper effective law enforcement; the belief that the problem of police misconduct is one that affects only minority and poor communities; the legislators’ fear that if they support revocation, they will be labeled “pro-criminal”; and the opposition of police unions who fear that the state will abuse the power. n235”

No state assumes that the public interest is adequately protected by leaving the ultimate discipline of lawyers and doctors up to law firms and hospitals. Rather, state bar associations cooperate with state supreme courts to disbar unfit lawyers and state medical boards revoke the licenses of unfit doctors. Similarly, given the costs to our society of unfit police officers, the final decision of whether or not a person remains in law enforcement cannot be left up to local departments. There is at least as great a need for state POSTs to serve a function with respect to unfit police officers similar to that of state bar associations and medical boards with respect to unfit lawyers and doctors. Unfortunately, it often takes a tragic incident that results in a public outcry to get police officer revocation legislation enacted. n238 There is no excuse for the few remaining states without revocation authority to delay any longer in getting such laws enacted.”



Reform Overview

  1. Investigate local police departments
  2. Help local departments develop policies to reduce complaints, use of excessive/deadly force and corruption

Target: US Department of Justice

Department of Justice Investigation of BPD and Assistance in the Reforming of Policy

The Boston Police Department has a long history of injustice and bad treatment as it relates to people

of color, particularly Black People in Boston. While Boston has launched a national campaign to

restore its image of a racist city with a violent past, little has been done to address the history of the

police department. There are cases of brutality, corruption, and police killing civilians in every decade

since at least the 1960′s. Some of these cases have cost the city millions of dollars in settlements and


29 Black/Latino/Cape Verdean People killed by Boston Police Department since 1988

3 killed since 2013 Read more here:

Example: Baltimore

Department Of Justice May Look Into Baltimore Police Brutality October 6, 2014

Read more:

DOJ to work with Baltimore City police on reform October 20, 2014

Read more:

U.S. Dept. of Justice reveals plans to review Baltimore Police Dept. October 20, 2014

Read more:

Additional Resources:

DOJ Community Oriented Policing Services –

Crime Prevention Research Review No. 10: “Legitimacy in Policing” Date: 06/01/2013

Author(s): Lorraine Mazerolle, Sarah Bennett, Jacqueline Davis, Elise Sargeant, Matthew Manning

Collaborative Reform Model: A Review of Officer-Involved Shootings in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department” Date: 11/01/2013 Author(s): James K. Stewart, George Fachner, Denise Rodrigues King, Steve Rickman

United States Civil Rights Commission “Police Practices and Civil Rights in America” 2000 (a follow-up to its classic 1981 report, “Who is Guarding the Guardians?”)

Basic Black: Surveillance Across the Color Line (VIDEO)

basic black 4-16

Basic Black: Surveillance Across the Color Line

basic black 4-16

April 8, 2016

This week on Basic Black, what does “security” mean in 2016 to communities of color. With the persistent plague of gun violence in Boston’s neighborhoods and the tragic bombings in Brussels still in the headlines as preparations for the 2016 Boston Marathon begin, security is at the forefront of conversations about policing. Close to home, we’ll take a look at the issue of body cameras for police and later, the larger issue of creating a secure environment in an age of domestic terrorism.

– Latoyia Edwards, Anchor, New England Cable News
– Phillip Martin, Senior Reporter, WGBH News
– Todd McGhee, Managing Partner of Protecting the Homeland Innovations
– Andrea Cabral, Former Secretary of Public Safety, Massachusetts
– Según Idowu, Co-Founder, Boston Police Camera Action Team
– Jeffrey Taliaferro, Associate Professor of Politics, Tufts University

Philadelphia Police officers demonstrate a body-worn cameras being used as part of a pilot project in the department’s 22nd District, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)


Police Decertification in MA – Community Town Hall Forum MON 3/28

slide - town hall



Police Decertification town hall- web

Massachusetts is one of only six states without revocation authority. The others are California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.

Many professionals are licensed and if found guilty of wrong doing can LOSE their license to practice. Lawyers, Doctors, Plumbers, Electricians, Accountants, Taxi Drivers, Teachers, Real Estate Brokers, Architects, Psychologists, Barbers, etc. are all subject to losing their license or being decertified. Even your personal Drivers License can be revoked for serious infractions.

Why not Police?

Keynote Presenter:
Leading National Expert on Police Decertification
Prof. Roger L. Goldman
Callis Family Professor of Law Emeritus
Saint Louis University School of Law

Participating organizations and Panelists
to be announced upon confirmation

Police Decertification in MA – Legislative Briefing TUE 3/29

slide - state house

our Senate host: Sen. Jamie Eldridge


Police Decertification state house - web

Massachusetts is one of only six states without revocation authority. The others are California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.

Many professionals are licensed and if found guilty of wrong doing can LOSE their license to practice. Lawyers, Doctors, Plumbers, Electricians, Accountants, Taxi Drivers, Teachers, Real Estate Brokers, Architects, Psychologists, Barbers, etc. are all subject to losing their license or being decertified. Even your personal Drivers License can be revoked for serious infractions.

Why not Police?

Keynote Presenter:
Leading National Expert on Police Decertification
Prof. Roger L. Goldman
Callis Family Professor of Law Emeritus
Saint Louis University School of Law

Other individuals presenting to the legislators
to be announced upon confirmation

Millis officer fired, faces charges for fabricating gunman story


Millis officer fired, faces charges for fabricating gunman story

Officer fired his gun into cruiser, police say


UPDATED 11:43 PM EDT Sep 04, 2015

MILLIS, Mass. —An officer accused of fabricating a claim that a gunman fired at his cruiser before it crashed into a tree and caught on fire has been terminated.

Watch NewsCenter 5’s report

Millis police Sgt. William Dwyer said the only ballistics evidence recovered at the scene of the crash Wednesday afternoon was from shots fired by the 24-year-old officer, Bryan Johnson, into his own cruiser.

Video:  Police baffled by officer’s actions

“We have determined that the officer’s story was fabricated, specifically that he fired shots at his own cruiser as part of a plan to concoct a story that he was fired upon,” said Dwyer.

After several interviews with Johnson and examining the evidence, police determined that his story that a man in a pickup truck had fired at his cruiser was untrue, Dwyer said at a news conference.

“The evidence indicates that shots were not fired by a suspect and there is no gunman at large in or around the town,” Dwyer said.

A motive for the fabrication wasn’t immediately clear.

“I know there is something wrong. He was a good police officer, he was a good person, he was a good dispatcher. He was a person I thought would’ve been an excellent police officer,” said Dwyer. “Something did go wrong and probably in later days we will know exactly what that is.”

Police said they weren’t sure if the officer set his cruiser on fire.

Video obtained by NewsCenter 5 shows Johnson being praised by Millis selectmen for tutoring a middle school student who needed help.

In the video Johnson is asked how the student was doing after being tutored, and he responds that he’s doing well.

“Terrific,” the selectman says. “Just an example of your commitment to the town.”

Johnson will be charged in Wrentham District Court with misleading a criminal investigation, communicating false information, unlawful discharge of a firearm and malicious destruction of property when he is released from Norwood Hospital.

“He will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Dwyer said.

Johnson, who was undergoing a psychiatric evaluation Friday, was hired in June as a part-time officer and was scheduled to begin training soon as a full-time officer.

After the shooting was reported, people were asked to remain inside for several hours as police, including SWAT team officers, scoured the wooded neighborhood along the Charles River for the reported gunman. Schools were closed Thursday as a precaution.

Walsh on police video: ‘No choking there’


Walsh on police video: ‘No choking there’


Photo by: Ted Fitzgerald

By: Chris Villani

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said he did not think a Boston police officer was choking young man in an incident that was caught on video and posted online.

“I saw the video and certainly he was trying to get the young man into the car, there was no choking there,” Walsh told reporters following a speech at the Boston Public Schools Leadership Institute.

The video, posted on World Star Hip Hop, shows an officer with his hands around the neck of the man as he is being arrested. The man continued to shout obscenities at the police throughout the incident, as other officers dealt with a crowd around the cruiser.

“If there was choking, he would not be able to speak,” Walsh said. “I don’t know all of the particulars, but I have spoken to the Commissioner and I will be briefed later on, but I don’t view that as choking.”

The video made the rounds online and is the latest instance of police being caught on camera in the line of duty.

“I don’t mind the filming and I don’t think the Commissioner minds that, but there has to be respect on both sides,” Walsh said. “Police officers have to be allowed to work. We are working on community relations and will continue to work on that every single day, but there has to be respect on both sides.”

Walsh also commended Boston police for their work to avert a planned attack over the weekend at the World Pokemon Championships at the Hynes Convention Center. Police became aware of social media threats that were made against the event last Thursday and later arrested two heavily armed men as they attempted to enter.

“That was great police work by our department to avoid what could have been a very serious situation in the city,” Walsh said. “We are very grateful for their work and what they are able to do.”

Video shows Boston officer with hands on suspect’s neck

BPD choked out

Video shows Boston officer with hands on suspect’s neck
By Travis Andersen GLOBE STAFF AUGUST 24, 2015

Boston police have launched an investigation into an incident captured on video showing an officer putting his hands on the neck of a handcuffed suspect.

The undated video was posted to YouTube on Monday. In the clip, the young man approached a plainclothes officer who was filming civilians on a Boston street and shouted a profanity. As the youth walked away, another plainclothes officer followed him.
That second officer grabbed his arm and walked him to a police cruiser, where he instructed a uniformed officer to arrest the youth for disorderly conduct.

After the young man was handcuffed, he again shouted obscenities and resisted officers’ efforts to place him into the cruiser. At one point, the uniformed officer put his hands on the suspect’s neck for about 10 seconds, and the young man was pushed into the back seat.

Boston Police Lieutenant Michael McCarthy, a department spokesman, said in a telephone interview that the Internal Affairs Division is “looking into” the video clip. As of Monday, no officers had been disciplined, he said.

“No one has come forward to complain [about the incident], but that hasn’t stopped us from at least turning it over to Internal Affairs,” McCarthy said.

He said he did not have the name of the officer who put his hands on the suspect’s neck, but he argued that the officer did not apply pressure to the young man’s throat.

“It’s on the base of his neck,” McCarthy said. “They’re trying to push him down into the police car, and he continued to talk and yell. There’s no indication that there was any type of force used around his neck.”

Rahsaan Hall, director of the Racial Justice Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts, who had viewed the video, condemned the officers’ actions.

“It appears that the officer has no basis to even arrest this young man,” Hall said. “He’s engaging in protected speech, as unsavory as it may be.”

Hall also asserted that police used excessive force.

“The level of force that was used, specifically the officer who was choking the young man, was completely unnecessary,” Hall said. “There seems to be no justifiable reason for that officer to place his hands on the young man’s neck. This officer appears to be set on revenge because of what this young man said.”

He also said the incident underscored the need for Boston police to wear body cameras, noting that an officer was also filming the incident. City officials have said they are open to consider body cameras, but the department has not implemented a program.

“I’m assuming that this officer is going to suggest that he was doing it to record his version of events,” Hall said. “That’s exactly what body cameras will be used for, in addition to police accountability.”

McCarthy, the police spokesman, said the department appreciates the fact that a member of the public shot the video of the incident.

“It’ll certainly go to help with our investigation,” he said.

Police Officer Decertification: Promoting Police Professionalism through State Licensing and the National Decertification Index


NOTE: The six states without revocation authority are California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island

Police Officer Decertification: Promoting Police Professionalism through State Licensing and the National Decertification Index

Roger L. Goldman, The Callis Family Professor of Law Emeritus, Saint Louis University School of Law, Missouri
By 2014, 44 U.S. states—almost 90 percent of the states—had a process for the removal of the license or certificate of a police officer who has engaged in serious misconduct, thereby preventing the officer from serving with any law enforcement agency in that state.1 In most states, the agency in charge of issuing and revoking the licenses is known as the Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission (POST). In the absence of such a law, there is nothing to stop a department from hiring an obviously unfit police officer.These laws sometimes came into existence as response to incidents or situations where license revocation might have been a beneficial tool. An especially egregious example that spurred the enactment of Missouri’s revocation law in 1988 took place when a small police department, Breckenridge Terrace, located in St. Louis County, Missouri, hired Joseph Sorbello, who had previously been fired from a full-time position as a lieutenant at the Maplewood-Richmond Heights Police Department, a much larger department in St. Louis County. At the Maplewood-Richmond Heights department, Sorbello was involved in several instances of misconduct over a six-year period. While employed at Breckenridge Terrace, he returned to Maplewood and fatally shot an unarmed suspect in the back.2

As detailed in a series of articles in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about the officer’s misconduct at Maplewood, in 1974, Sorbello played Russian roulette while questioning a sixteen-year-old high school student suspected of possession of marijuana in which Sorbello aimed his gun at the student’s head and pulled the trigger.3 Luckily, it was an empty chamber. During his time at Maplewood, Sorbello was also charged with severely beating a prisoner arrested for disturbing the peace for which Sorbello was suspended but then reinstated after the grand jury failed to indict him. During a civil suit involving a person who was detained at the jail, a fellow officer testified that Sorbello had beaten the detainee and placed the barrel of his gun in the detainee’s mouth instructing him to suck on it. Sorbello was finally fired by Maplewood, but only after he refused to take a lie detector test requested by the department in response to the county prosecutor’s allegations that Sorbello lied to the grand jury regarding a concealed weapons charge against another suspect, possibly resulting in an unjust conviction.4

The chief at Breckenridge Terrace hired Sorbello despite his record at Maplewood. The chief freely admitted he was aware of Sorbello’s record and the allegations against him. The Post-Dispatch reported that 7 officers of the 18-member Breckenridge Terrace police force were either fired or accused of serious infractions in previous police jobs. The chief himself had been indicted on a charge that he forced a woman to engage in a sex act after arresting her, although he was later acquitted.5

Why would an officer known to be unfit be hired by another department? The Post-Dispatch article inadvertently supplied the answer when it noted that there were budget constraints facing the second department.6 At the time he applied to work at the second department, Sorbello had completed his state-mandated academy training and was in possession of the state certificate indicating he was in good standing. A chief of a financially strapped department has the choice of hiring a certified but questionable officer or hiring a brand new recruit, whose academy training may have to be paid for out of the department’s budget. Thus, there is a financial incentive to ignore the prior misconduct. Furthermore, someone with Sorbello’s record is not going to get a job at a department that has enough money to attract candidates with a good record, so the cash-poor department is able to hire him at a discount. Finally, the officer is immediately available for duty, while the new recruit has to spend up to six months at the police academy. Of course, there’s the risk that if the questionable officer commits serious misconduct at the second department, that department can be sued for wrongful hiring, but that risk is often accepted at the second department because of the difficulty of prevailing in a civil suit in federal court brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.7

The Sorbello case shows that the problem of unfit officers cannot be addressed solely by local municipalities and police departments. Every U.S. state should enact a law that takes away the ability of unfit officers to continue in law enforcement, treating police professionals the way states’ licensing laws treat other professionals. If anything, the need for such a system is even more important for law enforcement, as officers have the power to make arrests, perform searches, and use deadly force. Currently, six states do not have any revocation authority at all. Of the 44 states that do have such authority, 16 have limited revocation authority—the officer has to be convicted of a crime for his or her license to be revoked. Those states don’t require teachers, doctors, or barbers to be convicted of a crime before they lose their licenses for bad conduct—those licenses can be removed after a hearing by an administrative law judge, with the right of the licensee to appeal that decision to a court.8

According to the Post-Dispatch, the chief at the second department hired Sorbello, knowing what he had done at the first department, and defended the decision with the comment, “He was never found guilty of anything. Our policy here is that if the man comes to us qualified, we take it from there and make our own judgment.”9 Without revocation laws and processes, officials from the city that terminated the officer in the first place can wash their hands of any responsibility for what happens at the second department. In a case from Webster Groves, Missouri, four officers resigned or were fired after allegations of improper sexual conduct with teenage girls. When it was pointed out that they might be hired by other departments, the mayor responded, “Those communities make their own choices. They are no longer with the Webster Groves Department.”10 In fact, two of the officers were hired by neighboring departments, but by this time, Missouri had enacted a law that permitted revocation even in the absence of a criminal conviction and the state POST, after hearings, removed the licenses of the officers who had sex on duty at Webster Groves so that they could no longer work at the other departments.

Perhaps more common than the two cases previously discussed is the situation where the new department does not know about the misconduct at the prior department. The chief at the first department agreed not to give a bad reference if the officer resigns. In one case, an officer in Chattanooga, Tennessee, accused of brutality and drug use promised the police commissioner he would not apply to work in states near Chattanooga, but would apply for jobs two states away (in this case, Florida) if the commissioner agreed not to give any unfavorable information. When called by the West Palm Beach, Florida, department that was considering hiring the officer, the commissioner didn’t mention the circumstances of the resignation, so the officer was hired, joining another officer who had recently left the Riviera Beach, Florida, Police Department after he beat a suspect and blinded him in one eye. Even though Riviera Beach had settled a lawsuit for $80,000, the department told West Palm Beach it was unaware of any derogatory information. At West Palm Beach, the two officers in question were suspects in the killing of a hitchhiker, tried for first-degree murder, and acquitted. The West Palm Beach mayor later stated they would never have been hired had the city been told about their backgrounds.11

The West Palm Beach case points out the need for a U.S.-wide databank to track problem officers who move from one state to another, similar to the congressionally mandated National Practitioner Databank for health care practitioners. Approximately 30,000 law enforcement officers have had their certificates or licenses revoked since 1960, when New Mexico was the first state to legislatively enact revocation authority. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) supported a proposed Congressional bill, the Law Enforcement and Correctional Officers Employment Registration Act of 1996.12 The bill would have, among other things, required all revocations to be entered on the databank, but it never made it out of the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee. In the absence of a U.S. government–regulated databank, there is a databank known as the National Decertification Index (NDI) administered by the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training (IADLEST). Thirty-seven states currently submit decertification data to the NDI, and all POST executive directors, as well as law enforcement agency personnel given permission by the executive directors, are entitled to query the NDI. As of mid-August 2014, there were approximately 18,000 decertified officers listed in the NDI.

Decertification is merely one aspect of treating policing as a profession, regulated at the state level as are myriad other occupations and professions.13 Of the 44 U.S. states that decertify police officers, all have other components of a state-licensing scheme, including mandated adherence to specified selection standards. Selection standards include minimum educational requirements, psychological testing, and background checks, most often done by the hiring agency with state audits to ensure the checks have been carried out. States typically mandate a training curriculum, approve training academies or do the training themselves, and set the minimum hours of mandated training required. Some states not only require the recruit to successfully graduate from the academy, but also to take a state licensing exam, much like a lawyer who has to graduate from law school and then pass the bar exam. Most states also have continuing education requirements, with defined consequences for failure to comply. Some of the states that don’t have revocation authority do set state standards for training, both at the basic and in-service level. Some states also, in effect, have decertification, not by an administrative agency but by courts: when the officer is convicted of certain specified offenses, the judge must enter an order forfeiting the officer’s right ever to hold public office of any type in the future.

For those states that have no revocation authority or those with very weak revocation laws, there is reason to be optimistic that legislative progress can be made. Licensing and license revocation can attract support from both the law enforcement community and the civil rights and liberties community—the former is interested in professionalizing the police, the latter in protecting citizens from officers whose previous conduct renders them unfit to serve. However, leadership on resolving this issue must come from police executives since they are in the best position to make the case that unless police professionals strive to meet the highest ethical standards, they cannot expect to receive the respect and support of the communities they serve. ♦

Roger L. Goldman, the Callis Family Professor of Law Emeritus at Saint Louis University School of Law, is an expert on U.S. police licensing and license revocation laws. For more than 25 years, he has been helping states write and adopt laws that provide for removing the license or certificate of an officer who engages in serious misconduct, such as sexual assault or brutality.

Professor Goldman is also a leading expert on the U.S. Supreme Court and constitutional law. In addition to his many articles on police licensing, he is an author of three books on the U.S. Supreme Court: The Role of the Supreme Court in Protecting Civil Rights and Liberties; Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.: Freedom First; and Thurgood Marshall: Justice for All.

1The six states without revocation authority are California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island; Roger L. Goldman, “State Revocation of Law Enforcement Officers’ Licenses and Federal Criminal Prosecution: An Opportunity for Cooperative Federalism,” Saint Louis University Public Law Review 22 (2003): 121–150, (accessed September 30, 2014).
2William Freivogel, William F. Vogler, and Paul Wagman, Series of articles from January 9, 1977, to April 1, 1980, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
7In Board of County Commissioners of Bryan County v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397 (1997), the U.S. Supreme Court addressed the question of whether a local governmental entity is subject to § 1983 liability for a deputy’s use of excessive force and related constitutional violations based on the single decision of the sheriff to hire a deputy with a lengthy criminal record without an adequate background check. In rejecting the availability of entity liability for a single hiring decision, the court emphasized that for a municipality to be held liable, a plaintiff must identify the deliberate conduct of the municipality that made it the “moving force” behind the constitutional violation. As for the U.S. state law claims, this is state-specific based on state tort law and state policies concerning municipal immunity.
8Roger L. Goldman, “A Model Decertification Law,” Saint Louis University Public Law Review 32, no. 1 (2012): 150, fn 9, (accessed October 2, 2014).
9William Freivogel, William F. Vogler, and Paul Wagman, Series of articles from January 9, 1977, to April 1, 1980, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
10Elizabeth Vega, “When Officers Quit Under Suspicion, State Wants to Know Details,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 14, 2001, C1.
11See Roger L. Goldman and Steven Puro, “Revocation of Police Officer Certification: A Viable Remedy for Police Misconduct?” Saint Louis University Law Journal 45 (2001): 541, 561–562, (accessed October 2, 2014).
12Law Enforcement and Correctional Officers Employment Registration Act 1996, H.R. 3263, 104th Cong. (1996); Law Enforcement and Correctional Officers Employment Registration Act of 1995, S. 484, 104th Cong. (1995).
13See Thomas J. Jurkanin, “Police Licensing and Revocation,” The Police Chief 81, no. 2 (February 2014): 30–35.

Please cite as:

Roger L. Goldman, “Police Officer Decertification: Promoting Police Professionalism through State Licensing and the National Decertification Index,” The Police Chief 81 (November 2014): 40–42.

From The Police Chief, vol. LXXXI, no. 11, November 2014. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

Police use-of-force data inconsistent: Departments’ statistics vary widely in survey


Police use-of-force data inconsistent
Departments’ statistics vary widely in survey

By Matt Apuzzo and Sarah Cohen

WASHINGTON — When the Justice Department surveyed police departments nationwide in 2013, officials included for the first time a series of questions about how often officers used force.

In the year since protesters in Ferguson, Mo., set off a national discussion about policing, President Obama and his top law enforcement officials have bemoaned the lack of clear answers to such questions. Without them, the racially and politically charged debate quickly descends into the unknowable.
The Justice Department survey had the potential to reveal whether officers were more likely to use force in diverse or homogeneous cities; in depressed areas or wealthy suburbs; and in cities or rural towns. Did the racial makeup of the police department matter? Did crime rates?

But when the data were issued last month, without a public announcement, the figures turned out to be almost useless. Nearly all departments said they kept track of their shootings, but in accounting for all uses of force, the figures varied widely.

Some cities included episodes in which officers punched suspects or threw them to the ground. Others did not. Some counted the use of less-lethal weapons, such as beanbag guns. Others did not.

And many departments, including large ones such as those in New York, Houston, Baltimore, and Detroit, either said they did not know how many times their officers had used force or simply refused to say. That made any meaningful analysis of the data impossible.

The report’s flaws highlight a challenge for the Obama administration, which has called for better data but has no authority to demand that police departments keep track of it. Those that do keep track are under no obligation to release it.

When the Justice Department’s civil rights investigators have scrutinized police departments and reviewed records that would not otherwise have been made public, they have found evidence of abuse.

In Seattle, investigators reviewed the police department’s reports on the use of force and found that one out of every five episodes was excessive. In Albuquerque, N.M., investigators concluded that most police shootings from 2009 to 2012 were unjustified. Such conclusions have been amplified by videos of deadly police interactions in Cincinnati and North Charleston, S.C., as well as on Staten Island, N.Y., and elsewhere.

But those investigations focus only on departments suspected of unconstitutional behavior. And police officers say the videos do not reflect the tens of millions of interactions that officers and civilians have each year. Federal estimates have concluded with “substantial confidence” that, when considered as a percentage of that overall number, officers use force very rarely.

The Obama administration is trying to enhance police training and improve relationships between officers and minorities. But without better data, it will be hard to know whether those efforts are working — or even whether use of force was objectively a problem in the first place.

“It’s a national embarrassment,” said Geoffrey P. Alpert, a University of South Carolina criminology professor who often consults with the Justice Department on its studies. “Right now, all you know is what gets on YouTube.”

More than 20 years ago, Congress ordered the Justice Department to collect national data on excessive force by police. But as demonstrated by the recent survey’s inability to properly measure any use of force, that obligation has been virtually impossible to meet, in large part because of the difficulty of collecting reliable data from the nation’s approximately 18,000 state and local police departments.

Although many police departments long ago embraced sophisticated computer analysis for tracking and predicting crime patterns, they have been slower to do so when tracking police behavior. Of those departments that require officers to document their use of force, some attach the information to police reports, some have separate databases, and some keep the data on paper.

Among the large police departments in the Justice Department’s survey, slightly more than half said they documented each use of force individually. About one-fifth, however, said they documented them by the number of police reports that mentioned a use of force, which means that each episode might be recorded several times by different officers. About one-fifth of departments refused to say how they kept their data.

That is useful, as is the information on what tactics are counted in each city, said KiDeuk Kim, a researcher with the Urban Institute, which conducted the police survey for the Justice Department. He conceded, however, that “they’re less willing to talk about how many incidents they had.”

In private discussions, some police leaders told the Justice Department that they were reluctant to turn over data that the department could use to vilify them, officials said.

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