“We don’t want a crisis and that’s what it’s coming to,” Northborough Police Chief and President of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, Mark Leahy told the Public Safety Committee late last week while promoting an auto insurance surcharge as the solution to the problem. Police Chief Leahy and the Association’s Executive Director Mark Sampson met with lawmakers on the Hill last Thursday to discuss the training system crisis in Massachusetts and to push their bill, Legislation S1258, which would tack a surcharge on auto insurance policies that the officials said would add between $2 and $2.50 per year to policies.
Police Chief Leahy said that the police curriculum had not been reviewed since the 1990s and warned that existing levels of training, hampered by budget cuts, leave police vulnerable to lawsuits or tragedies that could be averted with an investment in training. Two committee members agreed with the police officials. Rep. Cleon Turner, a Democrat from Dennis said, “The time has passed since this should have passed,” upon which committee co-chair Sen. James Timilty, a Democrat from Walpole, added “We’ve got to do it some way.”
Sampson argued that a surcharge on auto policies would generate approximately $8 million dollars, funds that could be split between municipal police and the State Police. Firefighter training, Sampson added, has been covered for years by a longstanding surcharge of one quarter of one percent on homeowner’s insurance policies. Sampson, the former Shrewsbury Police Chief, added that police training funding from the state had dropped to about $2.5 million a year from a high of $6 million a year.