Baker Criticized Over Bonus Provision in Police Reform Bill

The legislation would make officers eligible for one-time bonuses of up to $5,000 if they receive additional training

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Gov. Charlie Baker visited Boston's Mattapan neighborhood on Tuesday to celebrate the selection of a minority-owned development firm to build housing on the site of the former Boston State Hospital, but was met with frustration from community members who took issue with an aspect of his policing reform package.

Residents specifically took issue with a provision in Baker's policing reform bill filed last week that would make officers eligible for one-time bonuses of up to $5,000 if they receive additional training in deescalation techniques, bias-free policing or narcotics.

"Five thousand dollars for antiracism training? Who deserves that?" Monica Rey of Mattapan said.

But Baker defended his bill, saying he believes the bonus would serve a purpose.

"If you want people to up their game, if you want people to perform at a higher level, if you want people to do a better job in serving the communities they represent and to be leaders with respect to the way they do that, it's not unusual to create a modest incentive for them to do that," Baker said.

Rep. Russell Holmes, a Mattapan Democrat and member of the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus, tried to intervene on Baker's behalf, crediting the governor with putting forward a police licensing bill that can start the conversation on Beacon Hill.

"Your issue, whatever it is with Charlie, isn't mine, alright? So please don't take over the press conference because of that," Holmes said.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker addressed calls for police reform with new legislation.

A man who identified himself as Brother Lo of the Black Boston COVID-19 Coalition also told Baker he had been unable to secure a meeting with him since April.

"You mean to tell me from April to now you didn't have 15 minutes to meet with us? I really feel bothered by that," he said. "I have much respect for you, but right now I'm really feeling bad."

Baker apologized and said he would get in touch to set up a virtual meeting.

State House News Service contributed to this report.

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