Union: Electeds Must Condemn Attacks on Police
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE -- As a major police union seeks to draw Massachusetts elected officials' attention to a recent string of attacks on law enforcement officers in other states, the local branch of the American Civil Liberties Union plans to shine a light on incidents of police misconduct that have occurred in the Bay State.
The efforts, from two groups bringing different perspectives to lawmakers' attempts to pass a new policing accountability bill in Massachusetts, come as that legislation remains bottled up in a House-Senate conference committee almost two months after the negotiators began their closed-door talks. Conversations around police reform, racial justice and public safety are also a major part of the national discourse leading up to the Nov. 3 presidential election, after killings of unarmed Black people sparked protests earlier this year.
The Massachusetts Coalition of Police on Friday published what it described as "an open letter to elected officials in Massachusetts," raising "grave concern and alarm over the violence and hostile actions afflicting communities nationwide -- and a disregard for the lives and safety of law enforcement officers and all citizens." The letter, signed by President Scott Hovsepian, First Vice President John Nelson, secretary/treasurer Robert Murphy and in-house counsel Timothy King, referenced the Sept. 12 shooting of two Los Angeles County deputies who were sitting in a parked patrol car; an incident last week in New Jersey where a gunman fired into the home of two married Camden County police officers; and another in Arizona where two detectives sitting in a car were shot at.
"We call on all elected officials in Massachusetts to condemn violent attacks on police officers, such as the ambush shootings in Los Angeles and Phoenix, and the attack on two officers' home and family in New Jersey," the letter said. "We ask them to stop the reckless calls to 'defund' and 'disarm' police. And we urge them to be honest and forthright about what genuinely constitutes effective police reform here in the Commonwealth, as opposed to mere punishment and retribution for acts committed by officers in other states."
The leaders of the 4,300-member union asserted that the lack of condemnation of violence against police "empowers and contributes to a cultural shift that tolerates open and casual hostility toward police."
The issue is making its way to the campaign trail as well.
Republican Congressional candidate Helen Brady, who is running against Democrat Rep. Bill Keating, issued a statement Sunday night condemning the attack in California, and calling on Keating to "condemn this and other violence on our police officers, sheriffs and troopers." She also challenged Keating "to come out and debate me and be accountable to the voters on this and other important issues to the 9th Congressional District."
Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union plans to hold a series of events on Wednesday to launch a new "#PoliceViolenceHappensHere" initiative to highlight cases of police misconduct in Massachusetts.
At noon, ACLU Massachusetts racial justice program director Rahsaan Hall will hold a press conference at Brockton City Hall to discuss police reform legislation and groups will hold standouts at what organizers describe as "locations with a history of police misconduct" -- Amherst Town Hall, the Framingham Memorial Building, and the city halls in Boston, Cambridge, Lynn, Quincy and Springfield. The events, according to the ACLU, are part of a week of action and are meant to "underscore the urgent need for police reform."