Letter: Repeal ‘Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights’

Posted 5/12/21

To the editor:

As we await Sgt. Hanley’s new trial in Superior Court in Providence for kicking Rishod Gore in the head, we need to ask what more can be done? We can start by empowering our …

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Letter: Repeal ‘Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights’

Posted

To the editor:

As we await Sgt. Hanley’s new trial in Superior Court in Providence for kicking Rishod Gore in the head, we need to ask what more can be done? We can start by empowering our police chiefs and repealing the 17 procedural statutes, known as the “Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights,” or LEOBOR, which prevent chiefs from disciplining their officers. Sgt. Hanley, though convicted of assault in District Court, remains on the Providence police force because of LEOBOR.

Under LEOBOR, discipline is only determined by a three-member panel of fellow police officers, not by the chief. The police chiefs are taken out of the discipline process. And because the chiefs answer directly to the town and city elected officials, when the chiefs are taken out of the process, the elected officials are taken out of the process as well. 

We, who elect our town and city officials, have zero control over our police officers as long as LEOBOR intervenes. The police in RI are accountable only to themselves. And look at us. Sgt. Hanley drags Rishod Gore from his parked car and kicks him in the head (April 2020); Jhamal Gonsalves suffers irreparable brain injury when a police cruiser swerves sharply and crashes a pole into his head (October 2020); and Germaine Bruce and a young mother are violently arrested as they help a friend jump-start her car (November 2020).

Rhode Island is the only New England state with LEOBOR. Maryland repealed LEOBOR and so can we. We need to build back trust. Let’s trust our police chiefs and pass S 773.

Sincerely,

Susannah Holloway, Trinki Brueckner, Helen Schall, Elsa Grieder, Lois Kemp, Nancy Arena, Ann Doran, David Mehl and Laura Murphy

Barrington

Maxine Richman

Providence

Barrington Interfaith Partners

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.