STATE HOUSE – The Senate Judiciary Committee has recommended
passage of legislation sponsored by Sen. Harold M. Metts creating a special
legislative task force to review and provide recommendations on policies
pertaining to the Rhode Island Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights. The
bill has been scheduled for consideration by the full Senate tomorrow.
The task force is to comprehensively study and provide
recommendations on the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBOR),
to ensure accountability and protection against misconduct. Adopted in Rhode
Island in 1976, the LEOBOR protects officers accused of misconduct, preventing
them from being immediately fired or put on leave without pay, and allowing
their continued employment to be decided by a panel of other police officers.
The law has been widely criticized by many who believe it prevents justice from
being served when officers are abusive.
“Public safety officers are to protect public safety, and
there should not be ways to prevent those who pervert justice from being held
accountable,” said Senator Metts (D-Dist. 6, Providence). “The black, brown and
southeast Asian communities have long called for genuine reform of this law to
protect our safety. While it shouldn’t take widely distributed videos of police
brutality and murder, as well as worldwide protests, to finally bring about
change, I’m hopeful that our call is finally too great to ignore.”
The resolution creating the task force has been placed on
the calendar for consideration by the full Senate on Wednesday. The
session will be televised on Capitol Television, which can be seen on Cox on
Channels 15 and 61, in high definition on Cox Channel 1061, on Full Channel on
Channel 15 and on Channel 34 by Verizon subscribers. It will be live streamed
The resolution calls for the task force to study protection
of the rights of residents, conduct and accountability responsibilities, police
relations with racial and ethnic minority communities, police management,
disciplinary procedures, enhanced training for cultural competency and mental
health, and diversity in all law enforcement agencies.
The 13-member task force is to include three senators,
Attorney General Peter F. Neronha (who plans to serve in person rather than
send a designee), the superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police or a designee,
a police chief of a Rhode Island law enforcement agency, the executive director
of the Rhode Island Human Rights Commission or a designee, the president of the
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Providence
Branch or a designee, the President of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO or a designee,
the executive director of the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams
University or a designee, one of whom shall be the executive director of the
Providence External Review Authority or a designee and two members of the
Senator Metts said bringing the proper balance of voices is
his goal. He is determined that, with many stakeholders at the table, the task
force can take an honest look at the system and its effects and propose improvements.
The resolution sets a reporting date for the task force of
Feb. 9, 2021.