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1/25/2024 Representative Batista introduces comprehensive LEOBOR reform legislation
Bill would allow police chiefs to discipline misconduct immediately,
convert existing panel to appeals board

STATE HOUSE – Representative José F. Batista introduced legislation today proposing systemic changes to Rhode Island’s Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights (LEOBOR), the state statute that governs the process by which police officers are held accountable after alleged wrongdoing.

“I want to thank the community members, lawyers, experts and law enforcement professionals who have met with me over the past four years to lend their time, expertise and contribute to this bill. I’d also like to thank the 23 House co-sponsors who have signed on in support of this bill, representing a diverse collection of communities, experiences, socio-economic status and more. This legislation preserves police officers’ due process rights under labor law while also removing unnecessary layers of bureaucracy in order to uphold a culture of accountability,” said Representative Batista (D-Dist. 12, Providence).

Representative Batista’s proposed legislation (2024-H 7313) would maintain all of the rights bestowed upon public employees by landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases such as Garrity v. New Jersey and Loudermill v. Cleveland Board of Education, the two cases from which the LEOBOR was born.

This legislation would expand transparency, ensure due process and accountability, and protect communities from heinous misconduct by permitting police chiefs to take immediate action to discipline offending officers—like former Pawtucket officer Daniel Dolan—from the force. Rather than allow the LEOBOR panel to interrupt, distract and delay the implementation of the chief’s recommended punishment, the panel would still be available to the accused police officer, but as an appeal board while the chief’s recommendation takes effect immediately. Representative Batista introduced identical legislation last year (2023-H 6200).

“As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King wrote, ‘Justice delayed is justice denied.’ Again and again, the public sees abuse of power caught on camera, and the repercussions seldom match the seriousness of the offense. Just in the past four years, we’ve seen the City of Providence shell out $11 million dollars as a direct result of undeterred police misconduct. Meanwhile, Woonsocket paid an officer $500,000 under current LEOBOR policy just last year and Pawtucket paid an officer $130,000 in back pay and a yet untold amount will likely be paid in that civil settlement. These are dollars that could and should be going to affordable housing, schools, hospitals and other critical services.” 

Concluded Representative Batista, “I am ready and able to work with leaders from across the state to achieve the best reform possible. Let’s get this right the first time and ensure police departments have the tools required to promote a culture of transparency and accountability that improves outcomes and relationships with the communities the police serve.”

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923