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Police reform, housing top the wish list for R.I. municipalities

The Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns wants the state Legislature to reform the Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

The Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns is out with its annual wish list for state lawmakers, and once again, reforming the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBOR) is one of the league’s top priorities.

The group that represents all 39 cities and towns is asking the General Assembly for the ability to hand out longer suspensions to police officers accused of wrongdoing (currently anything longer than two days can trigger a LEOBOR hearing) and expand the panel that hears police disciplinary cases (up from the current three members).

The league also wants police chiefs or municipal leaders to be allowed to discuss certain officer disciplinary cases publicly without jeopardizing an internal investigation.


LEOBOR reform has been on the league’s list of priorities in past years, but the House and Senate have taken a pass on approving those requests. The issue could once again be front and center this year after the death of Tyre Nichols at the hands of five Memphis police officers.

The other significant item on the league’s wish list revolves around housing, which has become a top priority for Governor Dan McKee and House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi.

The league is asking the state to “work with cities and towns to encourage housing construction and rehabilitation, and remove barriers to housing, such as infrastructure improvements.” It lays out a list of needs (mostly money), but doesn’t offer a solution for some of the zoning laws that state leaders argue can interfere with new construction.

The rest of the league’s requests are relatively obvious, including maintaining funding levels for distressed communities and fully funding the state’s payment-in-lieu-of-taxes program (PILOT) that partially reimburses cities and towns for properties owned by nonprofits like colleges and hospitals.

On education aid, the league has requested that the legislature address high-cost special education and multi-language learners in the funding formula. Mayors and other chief executives are also asking the state to increase its share of teacher pension contributions above the current 40 percent.


You can read the full list of the league’s requests here.

This story first appeared in Rhode Map, our free newsletter about Rhode Island that also contains information about local events, data about the coronavirus in the state, and more. If you’d like to receive it via e-mail Monday through Friday, you can sign up here.

Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.