How does LEOBOR protect police? Legislators, law experts weigh in

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — After incidents of police brutality across the country, lawmakers are now pushing to repeal and reform the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights. But to what extent does this protect police? 

Adam Horwitz, criminal law professor at Roger Williams University, says the policy serves as a shield to officers. 

“It really hamstrings in a very serious way a police chief who wants to create discipline or enforce rules within his or her department,” she said. 

Horwitz explained the officer is usually paid during the investigation, and his or her fate is decided by a panel of peers. 

Rep. David Morales is fighting to make LEOBOR a thing of the past. 

“LEOBOR in of itself is a special privilege granted to our law enforcement officers who then give them the notion that they are above the law,” he told ABC 6 Friday. “An officer has the right to act in a certain manner, where in any other job you’d be terminated. But in this case, you will have the special privilege and protection over the course of several months where accountability will likely not be had.” 

Rhode Island is just 1 of 13 states to have LEOBOR in place. 

Morales added, “The officer can be placed on traditional trial if need be. However, the city leader– that be the mayor or police chief — would have the discretion to just terminate them if they see fit.” 

Most recently, Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien called for the termination of officer Daniel Dolan. Dolan was found not guilty of charges related to shooting a teenager off-duty in 2021. 

Grebien says while his actions weren’t criminal, they are not up to department standards. 

“There clearly was enough and we think there is enough to terminate him,” he said. “This is one bad egg in a great department.” 

 Morales expects legislation to repeal or reform LEOBOR in the coming weeks. 

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