After public officials missed two deadlines in the landmark policing reform law, the public could learn this week who the governor and attorney general have selected to serve on a civilian-led commission tasked with licensing and regulating law enforcement officers.
Gov. Charlie Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey are required under the new law to make their initial appointments to the nine-member Massachusetts Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission by Thursday, according to the reform law. Three commissioners must have a background in law enforcement while civilians make up the remaining six.
Lawmakers have pointed to the POST Commission as a powerful new accountability tool and said it is the only civilian-led entity in the country with the power to promulgate policing standards, certify law enforcement officers, and revoke officers’ certifications if they violate those standards. Its makeup triggered lengthy, and tense debate over the summer when the legislation was aired publicly and advanced by the House and Senate.
“There’s no other supervisory board in the country like this one with the extent of power that it has to monitor, to directly discipline and to hear complaints directly,” said Sen. William Brownsberger, one of six lawmakers who helped negotiate the final compromise version of the law. “It’s a majority civilian board. Almost all of the rest of the boards in the country are all law enforcement, so this is a very, very strong innovation.”
The names of the commission appointees were not available from the governor’s office or the attorney general’s office, where aides said they would make their apppointments soon.
Baker, who signed the law at the end of December, gets three appointments to the commission: a police chief, a retired Superior Court justice, and a social worker chosen from a list provided by the National Association of Social Workers. The governor is also charged with appointing the chair of the new commission.
Healey will appoint a law enforcement officer below the rank of sergeant who is a labor union representative selected from a list submitted by the Massachusetts Law Enforcement Policy Group, a law enforcement officer appointed from a list of five nominations submitted by Mass. Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers, and an attorney appointed from a list of five nominations submitted by the Massachusetts Bar Association.
Healey and Baker will also make three joint appointments, with one selected from a list of five nominees submitted by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. There are no conditions associated with the other two joint appointments.
Each commissioner can serve up to five years or until a successor is appointed, according to the law, and no commissioner can serve more than 10 years.
Public officials have already missed at least two deadlines associated with the new law.
A commission tasked with studying the civil service law and increasing transparency and the number of people of color in civil service positions did not hold its first meeting by the required date. A facial recognition commission, tasked with making recommendations to the Legislature on appropriate regulations and standards as it relates to the technology, also did not meet by the required date.