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Final Boston Police Reform Task Force recommendations announced

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Mayor's Office

Mayor Walsh today announced immediate next steps the City will be taking to enact the reforms, in keeping with the timelines outlined through the recommendations

Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the final recommendations of the Boston Police Reform Task Force, and immediate next steps the city will be taking to enact reforms, in keeping with the timelines outlined through the recommendations. The Task Force was charged with reviewing a set of current Boston Police Department's policies and procedures, and presenting recommendations for action and reform. Mayor Walsh charged the Task Force with four main areas of review: Use of Force policies; Implicit Bias Training, the Body-worn Camera Program, and the Community Ombudsman Oversight Panel (CO-OP). 

The Task Force today released the following recommendations: 

  1. Create an independent Office of Police Accountability and Transparency ("OPAT") with full investigatory and subpoena power, i.e. the ability to call witnesses and to compel the discovery of documents.
  2. Formalize and expand the BPD's commitment to diversity and inclusion through the creation of a Diversity & Inclusion unit.
  3. Expand the BPD's adoption of the body-worn camera program and continue to ban the use of biometrics and facial recognition software.
  4. 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. 
  5. Adopt practices that maximize accountability, transparency and public access to the BPD. 

The full recommendations are available online, and have been translated into five languages.

Mayor Walsh with members of the Boston Police Reform Task Force.

"We must be a city and a country where every single person receives equal protection and equitable opportunity," said Mayor Walsh. "We must commit now to transformational, systemic change. This Task Force is led by individuals from Boston's Black and Brown communities who are leaders on Civil Rights; experts on public safety; and activists for racial justice, and I thank them for their tireless work on creating this report. Now it is Boston's charge to take these bold reforms and use the Task Force's recommendations to create a better, more just city." 

Mayor Walsh today took immediate action to support and enact the Task Force recommendations. These include: 

Pledged to Form the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency

Mayor Walsh today committed to, within the coming weeks, taking the necessary steps to create the key new office recommended by the Task Force: the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency (OPAT), including a Civilian Review Board with subpoena power. The new OPAT structure will include a Civilian Review Board, absorb the IAOP as part of its office, and, critically, give subpoena power to the OPAT commission. These structures are key parts of the Task Force's final recommendations.

Mayor Walsh announced he will in the coming weeks reconstitute the current CO-OP board, and adopt the Task Force's recommended reform to a redesigned panel that will be known as the Internal Affairs Oversight Panel (IAOP). The IAOP will be empowered to review completed internal affairs investigations at its discretion and without limitation to the number of investigations it may review. This panel will then become part of the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency (OPAT). 

Hire an Executive Director for the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency (OPAT)

The City of Boston today began the process of searching for an executive director to lead the Office of Accountability and Transparency (OPAT), and the job will be posted on boston.gov/careers this week. The Executive Director will lead the Executive Administration, a branch within the OPAT structure. The City is launching a search to find an executive director who is a member of the Massachusetts bar, and is equipped to lead this pivotal new office, bring on staff members, and execute its charge.

Create a Diversity & Inclusion Unit within the Boston Police Department

Through Boston's newly-created Office of Equity, Chief of Equity Karilyn Crockett has been charged with working with Boston Police Commissioner Gross to create a Diversity & Inclusion Unit within the Boston Police Department. This work includes updating their internal policies to reflect the Departments commitments to equity and bias-free policing, and will begin immediately.

Pledged to File Home Rule Petitions to Enact Civil Service Reforms

Mayor Walsh committed to filing home rule petitions at the Massachusetts State House, which, if passed by the Legislature, would allow the City of Boston to enact the Task Force's civil service reform recommendations. 

This change will allow the Boston Police Department to adopt a hiring preference for high school graduates who have received a degree through the Boston Public School systems, METCO, or schools in the Boston Compact. Such a preference would have the advantage of both increasing opportunities for diversity within BPD and ensuring the staff of the department have a strong connection to, and deep knowledge of, the local community and diversity of Boston's neighborhoods.

"This Task Force has worked incredibly hard to create these final recommendations, and lay out a plan for real reforms in the Boston Police Department," said Task Force Chairman Wayne Budd. "I'm proud of the community voices that went into these reforms, and look forward to seeing these reforms become a reality in Boston." 

In addition to Mayor Walsh's commitments today, the Boston Police Department will continue its ongoing work to support the Task Force recommendations that began before the Task Force's creation, and continued throughout the months of the Task Force's work. 

Mayor Walsh has previously committed his full support of body cameras being worn by officers during all shifts, including overtime, and Boston Police are actively working toward that goal. In addition, Mayor Walsh announced that moving forward the Boston Police Department no longer uses the hair test for evidence of drug use in officers or recruits, a decision that was made in partnership with the police unions. 

In June, Mayor Walsh signed the "Mayor's Pledge" issued by the Obama Foundation's My Brother's Keeper Alliance as one of the strategies to address racism as an emergency and public health crisis. The Mayor committed the City of Boston to review police use of force policies; engage communities by including a diverse range of input experiences and stories; report review findings to the community and seek feedback; and reform police use of force policies. The Boston Police Reform Task Force is composed of members from the community, law enforcement, advocacy organizations, and the legal profession, to ensure that these commitments are translated to actions. Over the summer, the Task Force hosted a series of community listening sessions to gather community feedback related to police reform.

"The Boston Police Department prides itself on our community-first policing model, and I have made building trust in our communities my priority as Police Commissioner," said Boston Police Commissioner William Gross. "This report is an opportunity for us to listen to the community, and lead with the changes they want and need. We are committed to working collaboratively with leaders across the Administration, across the community, and on this Task Force, to become an even stronger, more diverse, more open and accountable police force." 

On June 11, 2020, Boston Police Commissioner William Gross announced he completed a review of Boston Police's policies against the recommended use of force policies outlined in the "8 Can't Wait" effort, resulting in clarified rules and the implementation of several reforms. In addition, as part of Mayor Walsh's Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) budget, Mayor Walsh allocated 20% or $12 million of the Boston Police Department's overtime budget to make a significant investment in equity and inclusion across the City. 

These final recommendations represent the tireless work of the Boston Police Task Force members, and valuable feedback from the Boston community. Throughout its process, the Task Force held five separate public listening sessions, and received over 100 pieces of testimony from the community, over the course of two written comment periods. 

Members of the Boston Police Task Force include: 

  • Chair, Wayne Budd, Senior Counsel, Goodwin LLP & Former U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts
  • Reverend Jeffrey Brown, Associate Pastor, Historic Twelfth Baptist Church, Roxbury
  • Allison S. Cartwright, Attorney in Charge, Roxbury Defender's Office
  • Eddy Chrispin, Boston Police Department, Sergeant & President of MAMLEO
  • Jamarhl Crawford, Boston Resident
  • Joseph D. Feaster, Jr., Chairman of the Board, Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts
  • Javier Flores, Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP
  • Darrin Howell, President, DRIVE Boston Community Resources Inc. & 1199SEIU
  • Marie St. Fleur, Former MA State Representative, Boston
  • Tanisha M. Sullivan, Esq. President, NAACP Boston Branch
  • Superintendent Dennis White, Chief of Staff, Boston Police Department

This report reflects the contributions of hundreds of people and is the result of a collaborative process.  The Task Force is grateful to everyone who participated in the process. The Task Force thanks the residents of Boston who actively participated in this process. Their participation helped to ensure that these recommendations reflect residents' voice and will.

Additionally, the Task Force consulted with a number of stakeholders, advocates, practitioners, and subject matter experts during the research and drafting of these recommendations.  It wishes to thank them for their generous contribution of time and expertise. The Task Force appreciates:  Branville G. Bard, Jr., Commissioner, Cambridge Police Department; Larry Mayes, Former CO-OP Panel Member; Natashia Tidwell, Former CO-OP Panel Member; Julien Mendele, Esq., Boston CO-OP Panel Member; Christina Miller, Esq., Boston CO-OP Panel Member; Jassie Senwah, Boston CO-OP Panel Member; Meredith Shih, Esq., Boston CO-OP Panel Member; the Honorable Regina Quinlan (Ret.), Boston CO-OP Panel Member; Susan Lee, Deputy Mayor of Public Safety, Chicago Civilian Office of Police Accountability; Johnathan Darche, New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board; Jerika Richardson, New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board; Yojaira Alvarez, New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board; Dr. Atiya Martin, All Aces, Inc; Dr. Tracie L. Keesee, Center For Policing Equity; John Gibbons, United States Marshal District of Massachusetts; Maria Cheevers, Director of Research and Development, Boston Police Department; Jenna Savage, Deputy Director of Research and Development, Boston Police Department; Jen Maconochie, Director of Strategic Initiatives & Policies, Boston Police Department; Segun Idowu, Executive Director, Black Economic Council of MA and Co-Founder, Boston Police Camera Action Team; Shekia Scott, Co-Founder, Boston Police Camera Action Team; Rahsaan Hall, Director, Racial Justice Program, ACLU of MA; Rachael Rollins, Suffolk County District Attorney; Jack McDevitt, Director of Northeastern University Institute on Race and Justice; Carla Sheffield, mother of Burrell Ramsey; Patricia Ramsey, sister of Burrell Ramsey; Gloria McMullen, mother of Mark McMullen; Chris McMullen, brother of Mark McMullen; Karen McMullen, sister of Mark McMullen; Kety Fernandes, wife of Mark McMullen; Avery Homer, niece of Mark McMullen; Simon Fernandes, son of Mark McMullen; Keith Antonio; Kim Janey, Boston City Councilor, District 7 and Boston City Council President; Jacob Leidolf, web / graphic designer and data consultant; Adam Friedman, President of Civera Software; Howard Friedman, Law Offices of Howard Friedman PC; Chris Faraone, Boston Institute of Non-Profit Journalism; Andrea Campbell, Boston City Councillor, District 4; Larry Ellison, former President, MAMLEO; William "Billy" Celester, former President, MAMLEO; Charles Yancey, former Boston City Councillor, District 4;  and Professor Roger Goldman, St. Louis University School of Law. 

The Task Force wishes to thank Lon Povich, Lily Ricci and Amber Aspinall of Anderson & Kreiger LLP and RJ ("Jack" ) Cinquegrana, Danielle Pelot, Diana Lloyd, and Christine Savage of Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP, who contributed invaluable research to the Task Force.

The Task Force also thanks its legal counsel, Marielle Sanchez, Esq., of Goodwin, LLP for her outstanding contributions to this work.