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Bill Ties Police Raises to Education

Bill Ties Police Raises to Education


BOSTON — Police officers would be eligible for pay raises after completing a variety of college courses — not just those associated with law enforcement — under legislation proposed at the Statehouse.

State Rep. Martin Walsh, D-Dorchester, wants to expand the Quinn Bill, which gives raises of up to 25 percent to officers with college degrees.

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Walsh’s bill would delete language in the law that directs the state Board of Higher Education to maintain a list of approved courses leading to law enforcement degrees. He said officers should be able to take courses in areas increasingly important to their work, such as computer science and chemistry.

“The job of a police officer is a lot different from what it was 20 or 30 years ago,” he said. “They should be able to get advanced degrees in a whole host of areas, not just in public safety.”

But critics said the bill would give pay raises for classes that offer few benefits to the public.

“They could get a master’s degree in basket-weaving and still get a 25 percent pay increase,” said Sam Tyler of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, a government watchdog group. “This would be a real step back in terms of trying to ensure that a well-educated police force is serving the public.”

Legislators amended the Quinn Bill, which costs about $105 million annually, in 2003 after reviews found officers were getting raises for classes of questionable value. Degree programs now must be approved by the Department of Higher Education.

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