In the face of mounting demands for a bold rethinking of the role of police, Governor Charlie Baker’s proposal to pay officers bonuses for extra training is an inadequate relic of the past (”Baker calls for police training bonuses,” Page A1, June 22).
De-escalation techniques are not “advanced coursework.” They are essential skills police officers must have to defuse situations that can turn tragic — and fatal — in a heartbeat. De-escalation should be part of every department’s use-of-force training that all officers must undergo as a basic, minimum standard.
Massachusetts residents, taxpayers, and public safety personnel can benefit from reevaluating the baseline training requirements at the academy. In addition, there should be regular in-service training for officersand regular coaching and mentoring on the job.
Departments can — and should — consider special skills, such as fluency in a second language or technology, in decisions on assignments and promotions. But cash bonuses enshrined in legislation are an insult to members of the public calling for real change.
Crime and Justice Institute
Somehow the Baker administration has changed the conversation from how do we stop the police and law enforcement from continually brutalizing and killing people of color to how can we give them more money. The police do not need more money. They need to be held accountable when they commit crimes. Toward this end, they need to be demilitarized. They need to be answerable to civil authorities. We pay their salaries and give them badges and guns. They have to know that when they abuse that authority, they will have to answer to us.
Police officers will earn our trust and respect only when they learn to trust and respect the communities that they are expected to serve. Giving them more money is not going to help.