The Massachusetts Senate recently passed a series of amendments in a supplemental budget aimed at shoring up the state's finances for the rest of the fiscal year. That included an amendment filed by Cape Sen. Julian Cyr (D-Truro) to provide a more consistent source of funding for police departments to provide officer training.
WCAI’s Kathryn Eident talked with Cyr to learn more.
Cyr: Currently, there is no stable, consistent funding source to municipal police departments for training. And I think increasingly, we're asking our police officers to do more and more--and training is a really crucial thing for them.
For firefighters, the state has long had a mechanism where we provide stable funding for firefighter training through a surcharge on homeowner's insurance. But, we haven’t done the same thing for municipal police training. So, in the supplemental budget, I filed an amendment which was adopted unanimously that would include a on surcharge onto any and all rental cars in the Commonwealth. Those dollars would then go into a municipal police training fund. Actually, the Senate established in one in the criminal justice reform bill we passed from months ago.
Eident: How much money do you think that will generate if you're looking at rental car revenue?
Cyr: We're thinking it's upwards of 7 or 8 million dollars. There is a cap on it. So, if it exceeds 10 million, the those moneies will revert to the general fund. But, we estimate it's going to be a sizable chunk of money and it's going to be consistent set of money so the Municipal Police Training Committee and police chiefs across the state can really plan for training needs.
This is going to mean that new recruits will be trained and that training will be paid for through the fund. And then a whole host of ongoing training-- everything from basic CPR , to bystander training, to looking at implicit bias and other issues and challenges.
Eident: Do you think there's more of an appetite for something like this in the wake of the fatal shooting of a police officer?
Cyr: I think that certainly, especially on the Cape, our minds are certainly going to: How do we best support law enforcement and first responders? But these are efforts that I think we've really owed it to police departments to and police chiefs to get done.
Eident: Where, or how are departments funding training right now--or are they not able to?
Cyr: Right now it's cobbled together through local police departments. There are appropriations that come from the state, but they vary. So it was nearly five million dollars in FY17, and in FY18 it dipped below that. So the money has been sort of inconsistent; it hasn't been stable.
For instance, a police chief will hire a recruit, and right now, they don't actually know where that training money is going to come from. Can they get them into the academy? Who's going to pay for that? Is that going to come out of their own budget? Do they have to go back to the town? Is there some support they can get from the state? So, this just really provides stability and sort of a consistent amount of money — and an increase in money —for meaningful police training.
Eident: State Senator Julian Cyr, thanks so much for talking about some of the work that you've been doing up on Beacon Hill. We really appreciate it.
Cyr: You're welcome. Take care, Kathryn.
*This interview transcript was lightly edited for grammar and punctuation.