STATE HOUSE – The first meeting of a special legislative task force to review and provide recommendations on policies pertaining to the Rhode Island Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights is scheduled Wednesday.
The task force, created by legislation sponsored by Sen. Harold M. Metts and approved by the Senate June 18, 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), who will serve on the task force. “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 13-member task force includes:
· Senator Metts
· Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence)
· Sen. Gordon E. Rogers (R-Dist. 21, Foster, Coventry, Scituate, West Greenwich)
· Attorney General Peter F. Neronha
· State Police Superintendent Col. James M. Manni
· Providence Police Chief Col. Hugh T. Clements Jr.
· Rhode Island Human Rights Commission Executive Director Michael Évora
· NAACP Providence Branch President James Vincent
· Anthony Capezza Jr., representing the Rhode Island AFL-CIO
· Latino Policy Institute Director Marcela Betancur
· Providence External Review Board Executive Director Jose F. Batista
· Rev. Howard M. Jenkins Jr.
· Rev. Chontell N. Washington
The resolution creating the task force calls for it 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 task force is to report to the Senate by Feb. 9, 2021.