New Hampshire’s attorney general released a statewide list in December. The Telegram & Gazette asked Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey for a similar list of Massachusetts officers with proven histories of lying or misconduct and was told by her office this week they have no records responsive to the request.
The Democratic gubernatorial candidate declined the newspaper’s request for an interview. Healey’s office said they support such a list being created and made public, but did not say who would do it.
Some county district attorneys in Massachusetts have released their own lists of officers with credibility concerns, while others, including Worcester’s district attorney, do not keep such lists. Several released them after Minneapolis police killed George Floyd in May 2020.
The New England First Amendment Coalition said there needs to be a baseline expectation about what kind of consistent information the public can get about police officers.
Many police unions nationwide have opposed the idea of naming police officers accused of misconduct. Mark Leahy, who heads the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, said informing the public of an officer who committed proven substantial misconduct is different than including all complaints an officer ever faced.
Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early has also said police due process concerns pose an issue for creating a list.
New Hampshire’s Republican legislature passed a bill that was signed by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu that led to the list’s release, after state media companies and the American Civil Liberties Union sued.
To help gain support from police, legislators agreed to allow officers to contest their inclusion on the list before their names were publicly released.
Two of the Democrats vying to replace Healey as Massachusetts attorney general, Quentin Palfrey and Shannon Liss-Riordan, said Thursday they would work to create such a list and release it publicly with accommodations for police due process.
The campaign for the third declared Democrat, Andrea Campbell, said Campbell supports creating a statewide list and is researching the topic before opining on whether it should be publicly released. Jay McMahon, who intends to run as a Republican for attorney general, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins declined to comment on the issue.
The Massachusetts Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission was established by the Legislature in 2020 to certify and decertify police officers. The legislation requires the creation of a public database with information about officers disciplined by the commission. The commission expects to begin posting this information within the next few months.
The commission said that its databases are not designed to be a statewide accounting like New Hampshire’s list because the commission is independent from prosecutors.
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