Sweeping police reform bill passes in Massachusetts House, 93-66

BOSTON — The Massachusetts House on Friday night passed a police reform bill that has been up for debate for weeks.

It calls for a certification program for law enforcement officers, bans the use of chokeholds and limits the use of tear gas.

The bill, which passed by a 93-66 vote, now goes to a conference committee to reconcile differences with a bill passed by the state Senate.

House Speaker Bob DeLeo released this statement on Friday night, saying in part: “Change is never easy, but with this vote, the House of Representatives acts to ensure fairness and equality. It is the product of countless hours of conversations with a wide swath of stakeholders, including the members of the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus.”

MORE: Gov. Baker’s reform bill would make it easier to access police records

Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, released the following statement in response to the vote:

“For months, people across the country and the state have been marching in the streets to demand systemic change. Unfortunately, this bill does not reflect the fierce urgency that deadly police violence against Black people demands. Instead, it reflects the depth of entrenched opposition to necessary police reform. Police unions and officers used the weapon of fear to maintain the status quo and undermine even very moderate reforms.

“Ultimately, this piece of legislation misses the mark, because it will not help victims of violence hold police accountable. Let’s be clear: Massachusetts is not immune to police misconduct. In order to make any laws about excessive use of force or other police abuses meaningful, Massachusetts must reform our civil rights laws – including by ending qualified immunity, which denies victims their day in court. When the final bill is negotiated, it should empower victims of police violence to seek justice for the harms they have suffered and to hold abusive officers directly accountable.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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