The police accountability bill pending in the Massachusetts State House is far from perfect, but for mentally ill victims of police brutality and their families, it is a crucial first step in the right direction.

I know because my cognitively disabled sister Amy was a victim of police brutality. Seven years ago, cashiers at a wholesale warehouse in suburban St. Louis falsely accused her of shoplifting. She became agitated by the accusations. They summoned local police, who then tased her in front of our mother, while my mom calmly begged them to remember their training and deescalate. Looking back, it's sheer luck that those officers didn't kill Amy out of fear. It’s a horrific moment that no parent should have to endure, especially a Black parent. It was a difficult story for me to hear on the phone, far away in Boston. No one wants to be the next hashtag, the latest grim and fleeting marker of police violence.

Three years later here in the South End, Hope Coleman would face a similar tragedy when Boston Police officers fatally shot her mentally ill son, Terrence Coleman, 31, in front of their apartment after a 911 call about his well-being went terribly wrong.

In the aftermath of George Floyd, state legislatures across the country are taking a hard look at policing. As final action on the Massachusetts bill unfolds on Beacon Hill and Gov. Charlie Baker gets a second chance to sign it, it’s worth highlighting what’s good in the legislation, even if it falls short of reformers’ goals.

First, the bill would ban chokeholds and emphasize de-escalating the use of force unless it is absolutely necessary. Second, it would compel officers to intervene when other officers are using excessive force against suspects — a legal duty that could have saved the lives of Floyd in Minneapolis and Eric Garner in New York City, for example. Third, it provides for implicit bias training and teaching officers how to safely interact with the mentally ill. Taken together, those directives could go a long way in preventing deadly outcomes with the police. According to The Washington Post’s national database of police shootings, 23% of people shot and killed by police since 2015 were mentally ill.

The bill does have its shortcomings. It calls for a study on replacing police officers with mental health professionals to deal with certain nonviolent 911 calls instead of putting that into practice right away. There’s overwhelming evidence to implement that change now instead of commissioning yet another study. The Treatment Advocacy Center determined five years ago that the mentally ill account for one out of every 10 calls to police nationwide and are 16 times more likely to be shot and killed by police. Why should Beacon Hill waste taxpayers’ money to redo the same report? It’s an approach worth taking, even if only testing it out in a pilot program across the Commonwealth.

Worse, the bill doesn’t eliminate qualified immunity for officers when victims of excessive force sue. The bill does, however, strip qualified immunity from cops who have been decertified by a state commission on police officer standards and training. Removing the entire blanket of qualified immunity would be the single biggest deterrent to police brutality, since officers could no longer hide behind their badges and could be held liable for abuse.

In Amy’s case, officers escorted her to the hospital after they tased her and left her handcuffed to a hospital bed while nurses removed the taser needles from her back. While the officers were apologetic to my mother for how they mistreated my sister, qualified immunity denied us from holding them truly accountable for their actions in court. U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins both support ending qualified immunity in the state. Pressley has also proposed a bill to end qualified immunity nationwide.

Fortunately, cities across the country are finally making the police treat the mentally ill with dignity and respect. Last summer, Denver deployed social workers instead of police to deal with nonviolent calls. So far, 450 calls have been handled without armed cops. This fall, New York City spent $37 million to create a new mental health unit to deal with nonviolent emergencies and paired social workers with patrolmen on 911 calls. Last summer in Boston, City Councilors Michelle Wu, Lydia Edwards and Julia Mejia proposed an ordinance directing mental health professionals to respond to nonviolent 911 calls instead of Boston Police. The council also voted last week to approve a new civilian police oversight board with subpoena powers, a move for accountability that goes further than the state bill.

Regrettably, Baker initially declined to sign that bill, heeding police unions, which are fighting the reform measures tooth and nail. But the need for change became impossible to ignore last Friday when The Appeal published bodycam footage of BPD officers running amok on George Floyd protestors last May. The videos exposed our worst fears about police misconduct: arresting peaceful protestors to meet quotas, brandishing stolen merchandise and bragging about ramming protestors with their cruisers, as if they were playing a live-action version of Grand Theft Auto: Downtown Crossing.

These appalling videos are the latest chapter in America’s long history of police brutality. It's been 29 years since Rodney King, 6 years since Ferguson, and 7 months since #GeorgeFloyd. Massachusetts doesn’t need another study or bodycam video to know that policing is broken. When will Baker find the courage to take the first step and sign the reform bill? For Amy and the rest of us, we can’t afford to wait.