Sen. Chang-Díaz Reflects on Police Reform Legislation She Shepherded

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State Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz was one of the two senators who led the new police reform legislation from the Senate that Governor Charlie Baker signed into law on New Year's Eve.

Along with Chang-Díaz (D-2nd Suffolk), State Sen. William Brownsberger (D-2nd Suffolk and Middlesex) was the other lead sponsor of the bill that the Senate proposed.

Massachusetts' House and Senate had separate bills, and the governor came back with changes to their proposed legislation. Ultimately, Massachusetts' legislative and executive branches worked together to create legislation that creates numerous firsts to defeat structural racism.

Chang-Díaz commented on the bill after Baker signed it into law.

"This law represents a mile-marker, not an end. Among the 50 states, it will create the first civilian-led police oversight board with subpoena power and decertification authority; it will ban chokeholds and limit no-knock warrants; it will create a duty-to-intervene for police officers and a duty to de-escalate," said Chang-Díaz. "It will ban racial profiling and put enforcement powers behind that ban; it will end the requirement of police officers in schools. But no one bill will dismantle structural racism—in policing, or in all the other places it exists. As much as we celebrate these hard-won steps forward today, we must equally resolve to keep walking the road of racial justice in 2021."

Listen to Chang-Díaz's speech on the Senate floor on Dec. 21:


"Communities of color pushed through heartbreak, rage, and exhaustion to get meaningful law enforcement reform this far—and made more sacrifices and compromises than they should have been asked for. There’s a lot that remains undone, work that this bill will not finish," said Chang-Díaz after speaking on the floor.

"And yet this bill is a testament to the fact that, in the face of so many righteous voices calling for justice, the political system does bend to effort. 'Power concedes nothing without a demand,' and over the past several months, gutsy, sustained organizing has wrought landscape-changing reform to reduce police misconduct and strengthen accountability," said Chang-Díaz. "It's because of advocates, organizers, and community members that this legislation stands so close to becoming law, and it's because of their ongoing efforts that next session we will continue on this path towards necessary, long-overdue justice."