With a little over a week left in the Massachusetts legislative session, the House and Senate have released separate bills to address police reform that take different stanceson qualified immunity, the policy that shields public employees — including police officers — from being held liable for wrongdoing.
Attorney General Maura Healey told Boston Public Radio on Wednesday she supports some form of qualified immunity reform.
"It’s important to combat these cases of extreme behavior by police officers and hold them accountable. That means we do need to reform our qualified immunity statute for police officers," she said.
Healey said it is "critical" that the legislature reconcile the differences in their bills and send something to Gov. Baker's desk before the end of the legislative session at the end of the month. She also noted that a change to qualified immunity shouldn't paralyze public employees from making the difficult decisions that come with their jobs.
"We also need to make sure that public employees who have to make tough calls in their job aren’t constantly getting sued," she said, giving the example of a social worker who has to make a determination about whether a child should be pulled from an abusive home. "Do we want that social worker to feel empowered to exercise that discretion, and make that decision?" Healey asked. "We don’t want a situation where public employees are paralyzed, but when it comes to qualified immunity and its role with respect to police officer conduct, we need to adjust things.”
During the Ask The Attorney General segment on Boston Public Radio, Healey also discussed her actions against the Trump administration's efforts to change reporting requirements from hospitals, and federal agents in Portland, Oregon arresting protesters.