Despite the emergence of the national movement that amplified calls for racial justice after the death of George Floyd, Rhode Island lawmakers are poised to end their current session without making changes to the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, or LEOBOR.

To critics, LEOBOR blocks effective discipline of police, in part because it limits suspensions to two days without an extended hearing process.

Police unions support LEOBOR as a way of offering a fair process for officers accused of wrongdoing, and some police chiefs in the state say LEOBOR should be modified rather than scrapped.

A legislative task force met for months to discuss the issue, and recommended changes, including altering the composition of hearing panels, allowing police chiefs to comment on investigations, and increasing public access to police personnel records.

Despite that, House Speaker Joe Shekarchi said in a statement, “We could not reach consensus in the House on reforming LEOBOR, but I pledge to continue to work hard on this important issue. I have committed to work with the sponsor over the summer to come to an agreement on LEOBOR.”

Shekarchi said the stumbling blocks included “the length of extending the number of suspension days for an officer and the expansion of the LEOBOR hearing officers and which groups would be included.”

On Wednesday, the State Senate announced that a Judiciary hearing slated for the following day on LEOBOR had been cancelled.

“Over the course of many months, the Senate has engaged with all stakeholders in good faith efforts to responsibly reform the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights,” Senate President Dominick Ruggerio said in a statement. ‘Unfortunately, we have been unable to reach consensus at this time. We will continue to work with the sponsors over the summer in an effort to reach consensus on this important issue.”

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