The following was submitted to the Melrose Free Press:
The state legislature has passed An Act relative to the municipal police training fund and the bill was recently signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker. The piece of legislation creates a new, dedicated funding stream to ensure that municipal police officers get all the specialized training they need without burdening already stretched local budgets.
The bill received strong bipartisan support from members of local delegations, including Sen. Jason Lewis and Reps. Paul Brodeur, Mike Day, Paul Donato, Brad Jones, Steve Ultrino, and Donald Wong.
“Our municipal police departments have a very difficult job to do and officers must respond to many challenging situations every day, including individuals who may be in the midst of a mental health or substance use crisis,” said Lewis, Assistant Majority Whip. “It is critical that we provide our police officers with the best possible training and this legislation will ensure that the necessary resources are available to do so.”
The new law creates a $2 car rental surcharge that will be deposited in a dedicated Municipal Police Training Fund. The surcharge is expected to generate approximately $8 million annually. Certain car rentals will be exempt from the surcharge, including rentals lasting less than 12 hours and ride-sharing services offered through companies like Uber and Lyft.
This new funding stream will be used to support basic training for new police recruits, as well as mandatory in-service training and other specialized training for police officers across the Commonwealth. It will reduce the fiscal burden that police training currently places on municipalities, and enable the expansion of specialized training for police officers. “More than ever before, our police officers need specialized training and professional development to make sure that they are ready to meet the challenges of their daily work,” said Wakefield Chief of Police Richard Smith. “It’s great to see the Commonwealth creating a dedicated revenue stream for police training so that our officers can get the training they need, even when local budgets are limited.”