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Here’s what’s in the police reform bill Governor Baker signed into law

A police bill from the Senate Chamber at the Massachusetts State House earlier this month.
A police bill from the Senate Chamber at the Massachusetts State House earlier this month.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Governor Charlie Baker on Thursday signed a police reform bill into law that for the first time creates a system for certifying police officers in Massachusetts and gives a new civilian-led panel the ability to revoke their licenses for misconduct.

The law comes after protests against police violence and racism took place over the summer in Massachusetts and across the country in the days and weeks following the police killings of Breonna Taylor in March and George Floyd in May.

Here are some of the provisions of the bill:

  • Creates a Massachusetts Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission that will be made up mostly of civilians who would handle the certification of officers, oversee investigations into misconduct, and revoke an officer’s license for certain misconduct. The commission could rescind certification if an officer is convicted of a felony, “knowingly” files a police report with false information, or is found to engage in other misconduct.
  • Bans the use of chokeholds, requires the use of deescalation tactics before physical force, and establishes limits on the use of rubber bullets, chemical agents, and canine units against crowds.
  • Requires that an officer intervene if another officer is using unnecessary physical force.
  • Bans law enforcement agencies from engaging in racial profiling.
  • Limits the use of no-knock warrants by by requiring that they be issued by a judge and only in situations where an officer’s safety would be at risk if they announce themselves and where there are no children or adults over the age of 65 in the home.
  • Establishes four commissions on the status of Black Americans, Latinos and Latinas, people with disabilities, and the social status of Black men and boys.
  • Bars school personnel and school resource officers from sharing certain information about students with law enforcement, including whether they are believed to be in a gang “unless it is germane to a specific unlawful incident.”
  • Fines or imprisons a law enforcement officer who knowingly submits a fraudulent timesheet.

Baker had threatened a veto in part over a provision in an earlier version of the bill that would have banned law enforcement from using facial recognition technology. Lawmakers compromised, and the bill signed into law includes limits on its use.

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Matt Stout of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Material from the Globe wire services was also used.


Amanda Kaufman can be reached at amanda.kaufman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandakauf1.