Massachusetts

What to do here

Click a "Get Template" button to get an email template about a specific issue. Edit the template to connect on a more personal level with your lawmaker. See the Contacting Logistics page for information about how to write an effective email to your lawmakers. Get your lawmakers' emails with the search box to the right. Send the email!

Be sure to check out the Next Steps at the bottom of the page. Go to the References/Further Reading page to see our sources and do some research of your own.

Last updated Jan. 20, 2020

You can contact Governor Baker with the form at the bottom of this webpage:

Summary

Key:

Legislation Achieved

Some Progress

No Progress

  • Demilitarization

    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes

    No knock warrants
    1033 program
    Military-style training
    SWAT data

    Massachusetts a

  • For Profit Policing

    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes

    Civil asset forfeiture
    Quotas
    Cost of misconduct

    Massachusetts b

  • Broken Windows Policing

    Minor offenses
    Objective justification for stops
    Reporting stop details

    Massachusetts c

  • Accountability

    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes

    Reckless civil rights violation
    Independent investigation
    Qualified immunity

    Massachusetts d

  • Reinvesting in Communities

    Mental health response

    Education, housing, and community health resources

    Massachusetts e

Demilitarization

Learn about demilitarization and the specific issues below on the Demilitarization page (opens in a new window).

 

No knock warrants

Some Progress:

S.2963, passed in December 2020, limits the use of no-knock warrants to instances where officers can prove that no child or person over the age of 65 is in the home at the time of the planned no-knock warrant.

1033 purchases

No Progress:

Massachusetts has not yet enacted a law ending its participation in programs that facilitate the transfer of military weapons from the federal government to police departments.

Military style training

No Progress:

Massachusetts has not yet enacted a law refocusing training away from self-defense responses and towards community centered training like that offered by Blue Courage.

Pending Legislation: There is a bill, H.4794, proposed by governor Baker on the floor as of July 2020 that proposes applying at the very least POST training standards to police officers in the state, which would be more than has ever been implemented in MA.

SWAT data

No Progress:

Massachusetts has not yet enacted a law requiring the recording and cataloging of SWAT team use.

For Profit Policing

Learn about for profit policing and the specific issues below on the For Profit Policing page (opens in a new window).

 

Civil asset forfeiture

No Progress:

Massachusetts has not yet enacted a law ending civil asset forfeiture. Police can keep up to 100% of civil forfeiture assets, and they only need the lowest burden of proof (the police only have to "reasonably believe" that the assets were involved in a crime), and the burden is on the civilian to prove that they are innocent, (no presumption of innocence). The governor commissioned a review of civil forfeiture practices in 2019, but the results are not available to the public.

Quotas

Some Progress:

A court case in 2003 ruled that any quotas on tickets or arrests issued by the state police would be illegal in Massachusetts. This does not provide a system of internal enforcement or codified law, however, only de jure case credibility for citizens who sue.

Cost of misconduct

No Progress:

Massachusetts has not yet enacted a law requiring police departments (not state general funds) to cover the cost of misconduct.

Broken Windows Policing

Learn about broken windows policing and the specific issues below on the Broken Windows Policing page (opens in a new window).

 

Minor offenses

Some Progress:

Massachusetts has completely and thoroughly decriminalized minor cannabis charges and disturbing the peace, and, to an extent, loitering. S.1146, introduced in 2017, would have decriminalized several minor offenses, but it died in committee in 2019.

Objective justification for stops

No Progress:

Massachusetts has not yet enacted a law requiring officers to establish objective justification for making a stop.

Reporting stop details

No Progress:

Massachusetts has not yet enacted a law requiring comprehensive reporting of police stops (noting location, race, gender, whether force was used and whether a firearm was found).

Accountability

Learn about accountability and the specific issues below on the Accountability page (opens in a new window).

 

Reckless civil rights violation

No Progress:

Massachusetts has not yet enacted a law lowering the prosecution requirement from ‘willful’ to ‘reckless’ deprivation of another’s rights.

Independent investigation

No Progress:

Massachusetts has not yet enacted a law institutionalizing an independent prosecutor within the state’s Department of Justice for instances of police misconduct. S.2963, signed into law in December 2020, did create a civilian oversight board with the power to subpoena and decertify officers. However, this provision does not address the prosecution and legal culpability of an officer accused of misconduct.

Qualified immunity

Some Progress:

S.2963 also revokes civil liability protections from officers that have been decertified. After loosing his/her certification, and officer can be held individually responsible for civil liberty violations like excessive use of force, false arrest, and malicious prosecution.

Reinvesting in Communities

Learn about reinvesting in communities and the specific issues below on the Reinvesting in Communities page (opens in a new window).

 

Mental health response

Some Progress:

The MA Department of Mental Health facilitates a Jail/Arrest Diversion program to train officers on mental health response techniques and offer grants for local departments to work with mental health clinicians. Bill S.2200, passed July 2020, establishes the Criminal Justice and Community Support Trust Fund to help accomplish the following, including but not limited to (Sec. 26): Fund jail diversion programs for individuals with a mental illness or substance use disorder and provide appropriate treatment options; and Develop and strengthen communities heavily impacted by the criminal justice system by providing job training, creation, and placement. Additionally, S.2963 calls for a legislative study on the viability of replacing police officers with mental health professionals in some crisis situations. However, the bill does not institutionalize this process.

Education, Housing, Community Health Resources

No Progress:

It is important to note that policing does not address the roots of social disadvantage and barriers to (economic) opportunity that often lead to crime. Nor should police be burdened with that responsibility.
Without access to quality resources in healthcare, education, and housing, our cities, neighborhoods, and families will continue to suffer. We should instead reassess the budgets of the state government and reinvest in the services that matter most.

Next Steps

No matter what, register to vote:

Contacting officials is just one piece of the puzzle we can't stop there. We need to make sure our elected officials reflect our values and support reform at every level of government. Register here:

To keep these policies at the forefront:

Keep emailing about them (if you just finished the 5 Days Challenge, keep up the schedule—set reminders in your phone to email about each issue on its specific day).

To ask for more than this:

Use our templates as a model to ask for bigger changes. Color for Change and The Movement for Black Lives both have specific policy related to a reimagined law enforcement system. If you think there are additional policies we ought to consider, send your thoughts our way.

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