The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday unanimously approved the bill, sponsored by Sen. Harold Metts (D-Providence), to create the task force. The full Senate is expected to pass the measure on Thursday, a day later than originally planned.

Police unions sparked the creation of the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights in the 1970s and they defend it as a necessary form of due process for police officers accused of wrongdoing.

But critics say the law, known by the acronym LEOBOR, shields problem police officers from accountability.

Now, with a spotlight on issues of race and justice, there's more political support than in the past to review LEOBOR.

“My hope is that we get the stakeholders together and we bring balance to the system, and balance to the system is needed, because we have to protect our citizens,” said Metts, the only African-American member of the 38-person Senate. “Yet we also have to protect the due process of the good officers. But we don’t want a system in place that protects the bad apples that are abusing the system.”

Metts’ bill would create a 13-member task force composed of senators, and representatives of law enforcement and community groups. It would face a deadline next February for recommending changes.

In related news, Attorney General Peter Neronha made a virtual appearance before the Judiciary Committee to support a measure that he said would expand civil rights and allow for patterns and practice probes of questionable police practices.

Neronha is also implementing a new protocol in his office to expand the oversight of police agencies, including in cases where officers are accused of simple assault.

“Sometimes it is a simple assault,” Neronha said in an interview with The Public’s Radio. “And if we make them here, at the assault level, we may be able to head off a pattern of conduct that could result in something much more serious later. It’s serious enough when it’s a simple assault, it’s obviously much more serious when a death results as happened in Minneapolis. So the sooner we get on top of those cases here and address that behavior, the better off we’ll all be - communities and police departments.”