MAMLEO President Larry Ellison (center) announces the organization’s vote of no confidence in the mayor. While the group cannot endorse candidates, they held signs saying “it’s time for change in City Hall.” (Yawu Miller photo)
An association of minority Boston Police officers announced they’ve taken a vote of no confidence in Mayor Thomas Menino and Police Commissioner Ed Davis, citing what they said is a lack of commitment to diversity on the police force.
While the officers did not endorse Menino’s rival in the mayoral race, City Councilor Michael Flaherty, their announcement Monday morning followed a press conference where a group of black ministers joined community activists from the Latino, Asian and Cape Verdean communities to publicly endorse the Flaherty-Yoon campaign Monday.
Their public support follows last week’s endorsement from former mayor Ray Flynn and former mayoral candidate and state Rep. Mel King.
At Monday’s press conferences, the ministers, police and community activists cited what they said was a lack of inclusion in the Menino administration.
“It is time for a change in leadership in City Hall because the Boston Police Department does not reflect the new Boston in its diversity,” said Bruce Wall, pastor of the Global Ministries Christian Church in Dorchester.
“Under Mayor Menino, it has gone back to representing the old Boston that said that black folk need not apply and if you are in uniform, you will not be promoted to positions of significance in the Boston Police Department.”
Menino officials were unavailable to comment.
Last week, black pastors active in the Black Ministerial Alliance and Ten Point Coalition endorsed Menino.
Menino has enjoyed high favorability in Boston’s black community, securing more than 60 percent of the vote in predominantly black wards and precincts in this year’s preliminary election.
While his supporters cite his administration’s record of channeling resources to the redevelopment on Blue Hill Ave., Grove Hall and Dudley Square, his critics say blacks, Latinos and Asians are largely left out of decision-making positions in the Menino administration.
Flaherty pointed out in Monday’s press conference that there are now just two black department heads in City Hall and no Latinos or Asians.
“That’s despicable,” he said.
Community activist Chiqui Rivera said the Menino administration’s lack of Latinos makes it difficult for Spanish speakers to relate to people in City Hall.
“The Latino representation in the Menino administration is so little, when we walk into City Hall, we don’t know where to go,” she said.
In his campaign, Flaherty has seized on the Menino administration’s failure to enforce a city ordinance requiring major construction projects to hire a workforce that is 50 percent Boston residents and 25 percent black, Latino or Asian.
He has also slammed the mayor for the city’s crime rate and the poor performance of its schools.
Most of the speakers at the Flaherty-Yoon press conference cited a desire for change and more inclusion at City Hall.
Linda Barros, a former representative in Cape Verde’s parliament and a Dorchester activist, said Flaherty and Yoon would bring new approaches to the problems facing the city.
“They have the vision to take this city to the next level and they will make City Hall look like us,” she said.
The officers, from Mass. Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers (MAMLEO), said there are fewer officers of color in decision-making positions in the police department now than there were under Mayor Ray Flynn.
Of the department’s 2,177 officers, 34.6 percent are minorities, down from 35.9 percent under the last commissioner.
While the department relies on civil service exam scores for promotions, the commissioner has the power to appoint officers to command positions as well.
Officers in MAMLEO have asked that the department use a wider range of criteria for promotions, including an officer’s record of complaints or commendations.
MAMLEO President Larry Ellison and other officers met with Menino and Davis last week. Elison said the mayor and commissioner did not offer concrete changes, but offered to make promotions of individual officers.
Davis told the Globe that the department had promoted one black officer and one Latino officer to sergeant detective.
“Once they found out we were going to be doing this standout, they wanted to meet,” Ellison said. “The mayor has never met with us in his 16 years as mayor. I told them what they offered us wasn’t going to be acceptable to my membership and they objected to it in a vote on Thursday and again on Saturday.”
Monday afternoon 40 black and Latino police officers from MAMLEO canvassed Mattapan Square, handing out leaflets detailing their allegations against the Menino administration, Ellison said.
“People were very receptive,” he commented. “They had no idea how bad it is.”
The Web site of the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers includes information on the organization's history, membership details, links to affiliated police organizations and more. More »
Although the numbers of black, Latino and Asian officers on Boston's police force have increased slightly, high-ranking black and Latino officers have been marginalized in the department's command structure during the 16 years of the Menino administration. More »
With the start of the school year fast approaching, Boston Public Schools officials appeared at a City Council hearing to discuss the district's struggle to comply with a federal mandate aimed at increasing diversity in the hiring of public school teachers. More »