RIBLIA Caucus announces LEOBOR reform bill in House falls short 

 

STATE HOUSE — The Rhode Island Black, Latino, Indigenous, Asian-American and Pacific Islander Caucus (RIBLIA) has announced that the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBOR) reform bill (2024-H 7263, 2024-S 2096) scheduled for a vote in the House Thursday does not include the reforms needed for the caucus to support it.

Said Rep. Leonela Felix (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket) and Sen. Jonathon Acosta (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket), co-chairs of RIBLIA caucus in a joint statement:

 

“LEOBOR reform is long-overdue and the RIBLIA Caucus is hopeful that meaningful change will take place this session. With that being said, the caucus will not support change just for change’s sake which is why our members have prioritized specific reforms that any proposed legislation that the caucus will support must include. While we appreciate the work of our colleagues to address three of these reforms, the current bill does not address what we conceptualize as the “George Floyd litmus test.” If a police officer is found to have used deadly force in violation of departmental policies and regulations, a police chief should have the authority to terminate their employment. As we have seen in recent high-profile cases of police misconduct in Rhode Island, delaying a LEOBOR hearing until after the conclusion of a criminal investigation and trial can keep bad law enforcement officers in their positions, with city benefits, for years. While the other reforms in this bill are important, they would not allow for an officer to be swiftly disciplined and fired for life-threatening or life-ending misconduct.”

“We have proposed a floor amendment that would empower the chief or highest-ranking officer of a department to take employment disciplinary measures, including termination, if an accused law enforcement officer violates department rules by using deadly force. Under this amendment, the accused officer's recourse would be confined to the grievance and arbitration provisions specified in their collective bargaining agreement, effectively bypassing the LEOBOR hearing panel altogether. A majority of caucus members and several white allies have expressed their commitment to supporting the amendment. Unless this amendment is adopted, a majority of the caucus will vote against the bill.”

 

The RIBLIA Caucus represents and advocates for the interests of disadvantaged people throughout the State of Rhode Island. It seeks to increase diverse participation and representation in all levels of government. The goal is to close, and ultimately to eliminate, disparities that still exist between white and non-white Americans in every aspect of life.

 

 

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