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The 192nd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 116A: Domestic violence and sexual violence complaints; basic training course; guidelines for law enforcement response

Section 116A. (a) The municipal police training committee shall establish, within the recruit basic training curriculum, a course for regional and municipal police training schools for the training of law enforcement officers in the commonwealth in the handling of domestic violence and sexual violence complaints and also shall develop guidelines for law enforcement response to domestic violence and sexual violence. The course of instruction and the guidelines shall stress enforcement of criminal laws in domestic violence and sexual violence situations, availability of civil remedies and community resources and protection of the victim. The course of instruction and guidelines shall also include specific training on adolescent development, trauma and family dynamics. As appropriate, the training presenters shall include domestic violence and sexual violence experts with expertise in the delivery of direct services to victims of domestic violence and sexual violence, including utilizing the staff of community based domestic violence, rape and sexual assault service providers and survivors of domestic violence, rape or sexual assault in the presentation of the training.

[Second paragraph of subsection (a) effective until July 1, 2021. For text effective July 1, 2021, see below.]

As used in this section, ''law enforcement officer'' shall mean any officer of a local police department, the office of environmental law enforcement, the University of Massachusetts and state police. As used in this section, ''victim'' shall mean any child or adult victim of such abuse, including elder victims.

[Second paragraph of subsection (a) as amended by 2020, 253, Sec. 6 effective July 1, 2021. See 2020, 253, Sec. 122. For text effective until July 1, 2021, see above.]

As used in this section, ''victim'' shall mean any child or adult victim of such abuse, including elder victims.

(b) The course of basic training for law enforcement officers shall include at least 8 hours of instruction in the following procedures and techniques:

(1) the procedures and responsibilities set forth in chapter 209A relating to response to, and enforcement of, court orders, including violations of orders issued pursuant to said chapter 209A;

(2) the service of said chapter 209A complaints and orders;

(3) verification and enforcement of temporary restraining and vacate orders when the suspect is present or the suspect has fled;

(4) the legal duties imposed upon law enforcement officers to offer protection and assistance, including guidelines for making felony and misdemeanor arrests, and for mandatory reporting of child and elder abuse cases and cases involving individuals with disabilities;

(5) techniques for handling domestic violence and sexual violence incidents that minimize the likelihood of injury to the law enforcement officer;

(6) techniques for handling domestic violence and sexual violence incidents that promote the safety of the victim, including the importance of keeping the victim informed as to the whereabouts of the suspect and other such information helpful for victim safety planning;

(7) the nature and extent of domestic violence and sexual violence, including the physiological and psychological effects of the pattern of domestic violence and sexual violence on victims, including children who witness such abuse;

(8) the increased vulnerability of victims who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, low-income, minority or immigrant, including training on ways in which the indicators of dangerousness in these communities may be different from those in non-marginalized communities;

(9) the dynamics of coercive controlling behavior that increases dangerousness even when such patterns of behavior are not themselves violent;

(10) the legal rights and the remedies available to victims of domestic violence and sexual violence;

(11) documentation, report writing and evidence collection, which shall include methods for assessing the degree of risk of homicide involved in situations of domestic violence, including, but not limited to, gathering information from the victim regarding the suspect's past reported and non-reported behavior and dangerousness, such as: (i) whether the suspect has ever used a weapon against the victim or threatened the victim with a weapon; (ii) whether the suspect owns a gun; (iii) whether the suspect's physical violence against the victim has increased in severity or frequency; (iv) whether the suspect has threatened to kill the victim; (v) whether the suspect has ever threatened or attempted suicide; (vi) whether the suspect has used or threatened physical violence against the victim's family, other household members or pets; (vii) whether the suspect uses illegal drugs; (viii) whether the suspect abuses alcohol; and (ix) whether there have been specific instances of strangulation or suffocation of the victim by the suspect;

(12) tenancy and custody issues, including those of married and unmarried couples;

(13) the impact of law enforcement intervention on children in domestic violence and sexual violence situations;

(14) the services and facilities available to victims of abuse, including the victim's compensation programs, emergency shelters and legal advocacy programs; and

(15) techniques for increasing cooperation and immediate data sharing among different areas of law enforcement in combating domestic violence and sexual violence.

(c) All law enforcement recruits shall receive the course of basic training for law enforcement officers, established in subsections (a) and (b), as part of their required certification process.

(d) The course of basic training for law enforcement officers shall be taught as part of the crisis intervention and conflict resolution components of the recruit academy training. Such training shall not increase in the currently required 480 hours of recruit training curriculum.

(e) The course of instruction, the learning and performance objectives, the standards for training and the guidelines shall be developed by the municipal police training committee in consultation with appropriate groups and individuals having an interest and expertise in the fields of domestic violence and sexual violence.

(f) The municipal police training committee shall, subject to appropriation, periodically include within its in-service training curriculum a course of instruction on handling domestic violence and sexual violence complaints consistent with paragraphs (1) to (15), inclusive, of subsection (b).