BILLERICA – On July 24, 2020, Representative Lombardo voted to oppose H4860, which focused on Police Reform. While the concepts of a Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) board and certification of Police Officers are ones with which he agrees, the bill as a whole contained several flaws that would put the safety of both our Police Officers and the public at risk.
“We ask these officers to walk into danger every time they leave their homes, while we sit peacefully in our own. We ask so much of our officers and they are left with only our praise. We called them heroes when they ran into the burning twin towers and when they skillfully captured the Boston Marathon bombers. When we lose one of them, our public and elected leaders pack the memorials and make statements about their heroism and bravery. Yet, with the passing of this bill, lawmakers in Massachusetts have knowingly turned their backs on our heroes,” said Lombardo. “We have collectively taken away the physical and legal protections our police require to do the job we ask of them. Any bill that takes a way strategic tools for our officers, puts restrictions in place that endanger an officer’s life, or takes away needed due process rights, is not a bill I can support” Lombardo continued.
Representative Lombardo noted that unlike every other licensing board in the Commonwealth – this bill absurdly creates a police board made of members that who are actually prohibited from having training or experience in the field. Medical boards are made up of doctors, Boards of Bar Overseers are made up of lawyers, and the same goes for nurses, electricians and plumbers. Under this bill, the majority of the Police Officer Standards and Training Commission are strictly prohibited from having any law enforcement experience. Additionally, the certification and decertification process tramples on long-standing collective bargaining rights and will serve as an open invitation for frivolous lawsuits and complaints against our officers and municipalities.
The New England Police Benevolent Association (NEPBA) - which includes the Billerica Police Superior Officers and Patrol Officers Union - supported Representative Lombardo’s opposition to the bill. Attorney Gary Nolan is NEPBA counsel. “It is very frustrating that the elected leaders of our state – those who regularly call upon our members to perform the most dangerous and demanding jobs in our society – have decided, in the blink of an eye, to treat these officers as the enemy. They simply ignored all the success and progress made by Massachusetts law enforcement, who are the cream of the crop in our nation, and instead pandered to those pushing a false narrative casting our police as villains. The result is legislation that will create labor unrest and litigation, will create a cottage industry for lawyers suing our cities and towns, and will make our police and citizens less safe. All of this was done basically overnight, without any real public or industry input,” said Nolan. “Unfortunately, this is just the beginning of a costly and much longer legal and societal battle.”
Representative Lombardo continued, “I can tell you with confidence, the brave men and women of the Billerica Police Department are among the best in the entire nation – they are community partners, they are role models for our children, and they bleed Billerica green. We owe our heroes and their families from across the Commonwealth better than what was passed in the House.”
The bill will now need to find agreement between the House and the Senate before heading to Governor Baker for review.
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