State Rep. Nick Collins said he wants to prevent public scrutiny of all internal investigations of alleged police brutality or misconduct even after an investigation is finished.
Recently a Medford police officer resigned after threatening to put a bullet in the head of a motorist going around a rotary in the wrong direction.
Requests for his record found multiple past suspensions for misconduct.
But Collins said an officer’s credibility in future cases also can be jeopardized.
“They can be discredited during that process when information is being sought about their personnel files while a case is ongoing,” Collins said.
Collins’ bill would keep all internal investigations private — even after the investigation has concluded.
First amendment advocates said this is the wrong message to send police.
“It tells (police) if you’re accused by a citizen of using excessive force, if you’re accused by a citizen of abusing your authority, don’t worry, we’ll keep it under wraps,” said First Amendment media attorney Jeff Pyle. “That is not a good way to discourage police abuse.”
In the age of cellphone videos it’s impossible to keep misconduct under wraps.
Ferguson, Cleveland and Medford are examples of how the public already is skeptical of most police departments policing themselves.
“Which is a big level of trust,” Secretary of State William Galvin said. “We certainly have the right to review how they’ve used that level of trust.”
NewsCenter 5’s Janet Wu asked Collins if the public should be able to know what happened during the course of an investigation.
“Well that’s a conversation we can continue having,” he said. “Again, this bill is starting point. Nothing’s passed. It’s going through the process.”
Collins’ bill is now before the Judiciary Committee and is not expected to go to the floor of the House for a vote until next year, if then.
He said it will not be thrown in with a group of bills requiring more disclosure of other public records.