There is a very interesting staff editorial in The Enterprise of Brockton today, calling on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to step up to the plate when it comes to funding police training:
“According to a 2010 report by the Special Commission on Massachusetts Police Training, our state is ranked one of the three lowest in the nation in funding police training.
For years, the budget has been chronically underfunded. In recent years, the allocation for training all 18,000 full-time municipal police officers in the state has hovered around $2.5 million. Police chiefs across the state have pleaded with the Legislature to add a mere $3 million for in-service training.”
To be honest, I knew that Massachusetts wasn’t exactly a national leader in police training, especially given the state’s historically low crime rate compared to the national average. But it’s surprising to read that we are in the bottom three states.
As the nature of crime changes and evolves, under-funding police training becomes much more dangerous. Duxbury Police Chief Matthew Clancy, in an interview with The Enterprise, says that despite the relative safety of our communities, criminals are becoming more violent and are increasingly more likely to draw weapons on police officers.
“More and more often, we’re being challenged,” Clancy told The Enterprise. “It’s a changing environment. It’s become more dangerous.”
The paper points out that there have five incidents of felons shooting at or pointing guns at police officers since 2012, just in the South Shore.
Couple that with the wild, multi-jurisdictional police chase on Monday, in which a suspect allegedly stole four cars, tried to run down a police officer in Newton, and then twice shot at police in Carlisle, and it’s not much of a stretch to apply the trend to Middlesex and Essex Counties, to say nothing of Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop in Suffolk.
“The fact is, police have to be prepared to respond to a variety of crises and never really know what the situation is until they arrive at the scene,” the paper opines. “If we expect our local police officers to wear a gun and use it to protect us from madmen willing to shoot it out on our streets, then our local police should be able to expect us to give them the very best training to do so.”
It will be interesting to see what comes of this, but if nothing else, it’s refreshing to see a newspaper call a spade a spade when it comes to municipal police funding.