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Walsh commits to implementing police reforms

Morgan C. Mullings

A month after the mayor’s Boston Police Reform Task Force released its initial recommendations, Mayor Martin Walsh has committed to implementing the reforms in the coming weeks. He will be creating a new office, the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency, tasked with investigating allegations of police misconduct.

The new Office of Police Accountability and Transparency will conduct its own investigations, have subpoena power and review the Police department’s Internal Affairs Division investigations into police misconduct as well. The mayor will hire the head of the new oversight office and the job listing will be posted on Boston.gov/careers this week.

Chief of Equity Karilyn Crockett will immediately start creating a diversity and inclusion unit at the BPD.

There are also a few civil service reforms that the mayor will file as home rule petitions to the State House. This will fulfill the task force’s request that “the City reassess the civil service requirements pertaining to the BPD officer disciplinary, hiring and prom otion policies.”

City Councilor Andrea Campbell, who led the charge for a civilian review board, applauded the task force for its work.

“The recommendations are a step in the right direction,” she told WCVB last week, “but we can go farther. If we want diversity in our public safety agencies, all three of them, we need to do more with respect to civil service.”

For Campbell, that means passing the ordinance she authored. She also doubled down on a request the task force made in the first draft of their recommendations — to make changes without increasing the $400 million police budget.

“We all know, as hard as our police officers work, there is no way that they alone can solve the issues of violence in the city of Boston. And if we want to solve those issues, we’re going to have to address the root causes, and redirect some of those monies for programs and initiatives that address mental health, trauma, poverty … and so much more,” Campbell said.

The mayor has also committed to addressing other recommendations from the task force but did not speak of direct action on them at his press conference on Oct. 13. The task force calls for an expansion of the body-worn camera program and more accountability around use of force. Specifically, its report reads, “Enhance the BPD’s Use of Force policies (Rule 303, Rule 303A, Rule 303B, Rule 304) so that they articulate clear and enforceable disciplinary code of consequences for violations and infractions and hold the BPD publicly accountable for the violation of these policies.” 

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley called the changes long overdue.

“These common sense recommendations should serve as the floor that we will build upon going forward, and they must all be implemented together in order to be effective. I encourage Mayor Walsh, the Boston City Council and the Massachusetts Legislature to move swiftly to implement these recommendations and codify them in law,” she said in a statement.

Though police unions have been vocal this past year in opposition to statewide police reform, especially during the debate on reforming qualified immunity, Pressley said, “We will not be intimidated And we will not back down until we confront and root out the systemic racism plaguing policing in the commonwealth and all across the country.”

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