News Releases
January 04, 2021

Boston Bar Association Statement on New Policing Legislation

Letter or Statement

Boston Bar Association President Martin F. Murphy issued the following statement regarding new state policing legislation:

The Boston Bar Association welcomes enactment of significant legislation reforming policing in the Commonwealth. This new law represents a positive first step and demonstrates a continued commitment by the Legislature and the Governor to addressing these critical issues.  But much work remains, and we look forward to continued discussion about these issues in the new 2021-22 legislative session.

To that end, our Task Force on Ensuring Police Accountability — which was established by my predecessor, Christine Netski, and led by Ralph Martin, the General Counsel for Northeastern University, and former Suffolk County District Attorney, and Natashia Tidwell of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP — will continue to focus on crafting long-term, comprehensive solutions on issues like qualified immunity and civil-service reform, and we anticipate that, in the new year, we will present our recommendations to the Legislature and the newly-created commissions addressing each of these issues.

In the meantime, we extend our appreciation to Sen. William Brownsberger, Chair Claire Cronin, and the rest of the conference committee that worked on compromise language; to former House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Karen Spilka, and Governor Charlie Baker, who set the stage for this legislation and made it a priority; and to all those legislators who voted for reform — especially the Black and Latino Caucus, which took the lead at the State House in pushing this process to a conclusion this session.

We also praise the advocates, stakeholders, and protesters who have done so much over the past seven months, since the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, to raise public awareness and ensure that critical questions about policing — and about racial disparities in the justice system, generally — do not fade from view. Our collective focus must remain on solving these problems by comprehensively addressing underlying inequities and biases.

Without an effective system for ensuring police accountability, the deep and abiding distrust of law enforcement within so many of our communities is bound to continue. We believe the new law will start us down the path toward building accountability and trust.