澳门6合开奖结果

STATE

On the issue of reforming RI's police bill of rights, the divides between sides run deep

Katherine Gregg
Providence Journal

PROVIDENCE 鈥 Lawmakers are grappling once again with how to police the police.

On one side of the heated debate Thursday night were legislators and others of Rhode Island's Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights, viewed by critics as an obstacle to firing problematic police officers, particularly those who disproportionately target minorities.

At the other end were those 鈥 including Rep. Raymond Hull, a Black Providence police officer 鈥 who want to fix LEOBOR by allowing police chiefs to speak more freely about alleged misconduct, increasing the number of days an officer can be suspended without pay without a hearing and adding members to what are currently police-dominated hearing panels.

Speakers highlight deep divide over LEOBOR reform

No three speakers illustrated the deep divide more clearly than Michael Imondi, president of the Providence police union; Benjamin Evans, who has been a public defender; and Harrison Tuttle, president of BLM RI PAC.

The three wove in-and-around the widely publicized case of Daniel Dolan, an off-duty Pawtucket police officer acquitted by a jury of wrongdoing after he shot an unarmed teenager in a car he pursued off the highway.

Dolan resigned with $123,934 in back pay without ever facing a LEOBOR panel, and the case has become an emblem for those who believe police chiefs should have an easier time getting rid of problem officers. The question of whether LEOBOR would have prevented the Pawtucket police chief from firing Dolan 鈥 despite a jury acquittal 鈥 remains.

澳门6合开奖结果:Breaking the silence: Police accountability and the shackles of LEOBOR | Opinion

"What I am hearing is that we don't trust our police chiefs to do their jobs," said BLM RI PAC's Tuttle, suggesting LEOBOR, as it stands, is "directly tied to police policing themselves and not letting anybody outside of police determine what their fate may be."

Introducing himself, Imondi said: "I'm the union leader [in] Providence. I have 435 people I have to represent, and I tell all of them ... my job is not to get you out of trouble. My job is just to make sure the process is followed fairly for you. That's it."

"If you did something that was wrong, that you should be disciplined for, then you deserve to get the discipline," he said. "LEOBOR is just something that's in place to aid that individual when he's being unfairly persecuted, unfairly charged, when the facts don't [support] the discipline that's coming down on him. That's all it's there for."

Pushing back against arguments that LEOBOR gives police a second layer of "due process" that no other citizen gets, Imondi said police need that extra layer because they have to make split-second decisions on the job.

He said hearings conducted, under the current law, by three-member panels of other police officers provide police "a protection, I'll use that word for lack of better words, for that officer to be able to fall [back] upon the facts of what he did if he's cleared in that case."

澳门6合开奖结果:In changes to Officers' Bill of Rights, the devil is in the details | Opinion

In his turn, Evans took issue with the lineup of speakers who spoke from a police 鈥 and police chiefs' 鈥 point of view.

as evidence that LEOBOR and similar laws create a dynamic where police "assume they will evade accountability" for misconduct that "endangers everyday Rhode Islanders," Evans pushed not to reform or modify LEOBOR, but to repeal it entirely.

"The question is not how we can compromise and find something that the police departments will accept or the police officers union will accept," he said. "The question is, how can we have a system which is just and fair for all Rhode Islanders, especially the everyday Rhode Islanders that are constantly subjected to the violence of police officers and have no recourse?"

"Why is it that Rhode Island alone among all the states in New England, among all the states in the northeast, has this bizarre law designed to protect police officers?" he asked.

RI Senate has already passed its version of LEOBOR reform

The Senate has already passed 鈥 for the second year in a row 鈥 its own proposed rewrite of the Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights. It differs in several ways from the leadership-backed bill that Hull introduced in the House.

All six of the police-related bills on Thursday's House Judiciary Committee agenda were held for further study.