Massachusetts lawmakers finished their work on a compromise police reform bill Monday, filing an updated version of the landmark legislation that Democratic leaders praised as "one of the most comprehensive approaches to police reform and racial justice" in the country.
Details of the conference committee's bill -- crafted in closed-door negotiations over the last four months -- were not immediately available, but it was built on House and Senate versions of legislation that created a certification and decertification process for police and bans certain uses of force by law enforcement.
"The compromise reached, which is intentional in bringing better transparency and accountability to policing in Massachusetts, represents one of the most comprehensive approaches to police reform and racial justice in the United States since the tragic murder of George Floyd," House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Karen Spilka said in a joint statement.
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"Our approach strikes a balance that will provide greater protections for the rights of all residents through a strong police officer certification process via a new, independent agency, and setting clear standards for training and use of force, while providing a wider range of tools for law enforcement to provide for the safety of the public," they continued. "While there is still much work to be done, we are proud of the foundation laid by this bill as we continue to build toward racial justice and equity."
As conferees filed their report Monday evening, the House abruptly added a Tuesday formal session to its schedule, when the compromise bill is likely to emerge for acceptance. Conference committee reports cannot be amended.
Passage of the original House and Senate bills was a contentious process, featuring multiple days of debate and vote margins -- 93-66 in the House and 30-7 in the Senate -- closer than most in the chambers where Democrats wield supermajorities.