The State Police Association of Massachusetts represents the Sergeants and Troopers that make up the uniformed branch of the State Police. For over 150 years, the Massachusetts State Police has served the Commonwealth with distinction, through natural disasters, terrorist attacks, riots and other disturbances. In recent days, we have ensured the safe exercise of First Amendment protests across the Commonwealth and continue to deliver the highest quality of police service.
We have stood with many peaceful gatherings of concerned citizens as they march to advocate for change to not only our justice system, but to how our nation as a whole dissimilarly treats its citizens. As to the events that were the catalyst for where we are today, let us be very clear: The State Police Association of Massachusetts condemns the abuse of power by police officers. Our members joined the State Police to uphold the law and keep people safe. Overwhelmingly, these Sergeants and Troopers do so with courage, integrity and professionalism.
Unfortunately, some of these peaceful protests were marred by criminal acts and violence towards police. Vicious attacks on law enforcement in the form of throwing bricks, rocks and even propane tanks have taken place. Our members have been spat on, hit and have had bodily fluids thrown at them. Some have gone to the hospital. Their response: the utmost professionalism in the delivery of police services. The commitment, training and personal cost that goes into the ability of the Massachusetts State Police to maintain the highest state of readiness is great. So too are the partnerships necessary to carry out these critical services. From local police departments to the National Guard, fire services to emergency medical response and the follow-on care at hospitals, to local businesses, schools and universities for staging and deployment areas, to bus lines and the MBTA for the quick and safe transport of personnel to critical areas, we rely on a community-wide approach and commitment to public service.
Recently, we have lost two valuable partners: The University of Massachusetts at Boston and the MBTA. For years, UMASS has provided overflow parking in a secure environment for hundreds of thousands of dollars of state equipment. That is done in an unobtrusive manner, visibly removed from event or protest areas, yet still in proximity to allow for the quick deployment of resources as needed. The MBTA has provided safe and reliable transportation, allowing for a single, inconspicuous vehicle to move our members. Further, the skilled drivers of the MBTA know city streets and can expertly navigate the movement of our personnel to where they are most needed.
UMASS Boston has now barred the use of its campus as a parking area for police, claiming that it is an intimidating display of police power and can serve as an implied deterrent to the right to protest. The MBTA Fiscal and Management Control board unanimously voted to prohibit the use of buses by police, so as not to inhibit people from expressing themselves.
Violence and destruction of property is not a protest nor a lawful expression. UMASS’s and the MBTA’s actions are shameful and overtly pander to the false rhetoric and anti-police agenda of the few. More important, they fail to support our defense of the peaceful calls for change of the many. These actions place needless hurdles to the protection of life and property, and they put the public at large at risk. Courageous leadership from the top down is needed to remedy this unsafe and unnecessary impediment to the timely delivery of professional police services.
Our members put their lives on the line every day to uphold the First Amendment and to ensure peace. We will continue to do so in these very troubling and challenging times.