W. Springfield’s troublesome grenade launchers
As part of post-Ferguson policing reforms, President Obama cracked down on the transfer of military-grade equipment to police departments across the US with an executive order that prohibits sending items like aircraft with weapons systems and bayonets, or as a MetroWest Daily News editorial put it, “bayonets!,” to state and local law enforcement agencies.
The editorial noted that “Obama’s actions must be matched by initiatives at the state and local level so that police not only aren’t equipped like an occupying army, they don’t think or act like one.” The president’s executive order also applies to using federal grant money to buy military-grade weapons.
For the moment, the order means that the West Springfield Police Department gets to keep its two M79 grenade launchers. The town’s police force caused a national stir last year when MassLive looked at the prevalence of military-grade weapons in Western Massachusetts and unearthed the existence of the armaments, which the town’s police chief pronounced “old and antiquated.”
According to the Boston Globe, $12.2 million in military equipment has been distributed to Massachusetts police departments, other state agencies, and campus police units.
The order does not affect previously acquired equipment such as the grenade launchers or other types of weapons such as M16 rifles, which have been distributed to some law enforcement agencies across the state. The Obama administration plans to study how much of the banned equipment has been allocated nationwide and whether municipalities like West Springfield should consider give-backs.
Nevertheless, Eugene O’Donnell, a John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor and former New York City police officer, said some police departments made good use of equipment such as military vehicles during events like hurricanes. “Policing is a local enterprise,” O’Donnell told USA Today. The changes are “not going to be easy or without controversy.”
The Senate does a little income redistribution, approving budget measures that boost the earned income tax credit and increase the personal tax exemption while freezing the income tax rate at 5.15 percent. (State House News) The tax measures contained in the Senate budget are likely to provoke some sort of confrontation with the House, whose leader is opposed to tax hikes and believes the Senate cannot legally initiate them. (CommonWealth) A Boston Herald editorial calls the moves a “bad tax policy two-fer” and says they reflect poorly on Senate President Stan Rosenberg‘s still-early tenure.
The Senate also joined the House in voting to eliminate the surcharge from a law requiring drivers to turn on their headlights during rainy weather. (Associated Press)
The earned sick time law passed by voters last year should be implemented without delay or any scaling back, say six executives with the Alliance for Business Leadership. (CommonWealth)
A Globe editorial decries high fees and other hurdles that it says subvert the intent of the state’s Public Records Law. Several bills that would reform the law are the subject of a Beacon Hill hearing today.
Artwork worth more than $600,000 has gone missing from the main Copley Square branch of the Boston Public Library. (Boston Herald)
The main floor of Saint Anne’s Church in Fall River is closed after a chunk of plaster fell from a wall. (Herald News)
Jon Keller declares the Olympics officials to be a dishonest lot, saying, “I wouldn’t really trust a single one of them to walk my dog.” (Keller @ Large)
California is about to implement a law allowing pharmacists to dispense birth control drugs without a prescription. (Governing)
The Los Angeles City Council approves an increase in the minimum wage to $15. (Los Angeles Times)
Hanover Insurance CEO Frederick Eppinger tells shareholders the Worcester company is poised for growth. (Telegram & Gazette)
Watertown development is booming. (Boston Globe)
Martha Coakley is joining the Boston law firm Foley Hoag. (Boston Globe)
The reaction of transportation experts to last week’s deadly Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia: You get what you pay for. (New York Times)
A US Appeals Court overturns the ruling of a district court judge and allows a Cape Wind lawsuit to proceed. The case centers on efforts by former governor Deval Patrick’sadministration to pressure the utility NStar to purchase power from Cape Wind in return for approval of its merger with Northeast Utilities. (CommonWealth)
In a speech scheduled for delivery today at the US Coast Guard Academy, President Obama is expected to describe climate change as an “immediate risk to our national security.” (NPR)
Salem replaces its trash carrier after numerous complaints about poor service. (Salem News)
Winter moths are feeding with a vengeance on maple and flowering trees. (Eagle-Tribune)
A fire at the Devens Recycling Center is tough to put out and causes extensive damage. (Lowell Sun)
Victims of a 2012 meningitis outbreak caused by a now-closed Framingham compounding pharmacy will gain access to a $200 million compensation fund. (Associated Press)
In the wake of a wild shootout that left nine dead and 170 motorcycle gang members arrested in Waco, Texas, the state Legislature there is doing only the logical thing — moving to loosen restrictions on carrying guns. (The Atlantic) Some see a double standard on race in accounts of the Waco shootout. (CNN)
The Boston Globe buys a Taunton warehouse for $20.3 million and plans to convert the space into a new printing facility and office space. (Boston Globe)
The Boston Herald criticizes CommonWealth magazine and the Boston Globe for parroting the talking points of the Boston Carmen’s Union. Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack says the number nitpickers are missing the point. (Boston Herald)
The Wall Street Journal is reportedly going to downsize its staff through buyouts. (Capital)DEFLATEGATE
Robert Kraft and the Patriots throw in the white towel. (Boston Globe)