Mayor Walsh, Boston Police Reform Task Force announce draft recommendations
Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Boston Police Reform Task Force today announced the Task Force's initial, draft recommendations to bring lasting, systemic change to the Boston Police Department (BPD), and enhance enforceability, accountability, trust, and transparency, improving the relationship between the BPD and Boston community that it serves and protects. In June, the Task Force was charged with reviewing the Boston Police Department's current policies and procedures. The Task Force is focused on four main areas of review: Use of Force policies; Implicit Bias Training, the Body-worn Camera Program, and Strengthening the Community Ombudsman Oversight Panel (CO-OP).
As part of their draft recommendations, the Task Force recommends the City of Boston and Boston Police Department undertake the following five tasks:
- 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, to replace the CO-OP.
- Formalize and expand the BPD's commitment to diversity and inclusion.
- Expand the BPD's use of the body-worn camera program where it increases police transparency and accountability, and continue to ban the use of biometrics and facial recognition software.
- Enhance the BPD's Use of Force policies 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.
- Adopt data and record practices that maximize accountability, transparency and public access to BPD records and data.
These recommendations will have a two-week public comment period and a public listening session during the week of September 21 before final recommendations are submitted to Mayor Walsh. The recommendations are actively being translated into five languages, and the full report is available here.
"The time for urgent change is now, and I thank the Task Force members for their in-depth work, and commitment to holding our City to a higher standard," said Mayor Walsh. "These initial recommendations will guide how we reform Boston's police force, and strengthen our commitment to community policing. As we finalize this report, we'll continue to prioritize the voices of our Black and Brown residents, who bear the brunt of the racial injustices embedded in our society."
"These draft recommendations are the result of months of community engagement, extensive research, and hard work from the members of the Task Force, and I want to thank each and every person for contributing to this initial version," said Chairman of the Boston Police Reform Task Force Wayne Budd. "As we continue our work to finalize these recommendations, I urge all Boston residents to read our report, and share your feedback, and be a part of this crucial, important work."
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.
"At the Boston Police Department, our mission is to keep our communities safe, provide opportunities for those who need it, and build trust throughout our neighborhoods," said Boston Police Commissioner William Gross. "We are committed to ensuring transparency and accountability in the Boston Police Department, and I thank the Task Force for their work in helping us better serve our communities."
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.
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.
Members of the Boston Police Task Force include: Chairman Wayne Budd, former U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts; Allison Cartwright, Attorney in Charge at the Roxbury Public Defender's Office; Joseph D. Feaster, Jr., Chairman of the Board, Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts; Tanisha Sullivan, President of the NAACP Boston Branch; Darrin Howell, President of DRIVE Boston Community Resources Inc. & Political Coordinator for 1199SEIU; Boston Police Superintendent Dennis White, Chief of Staff; Marie St. Fleur, former Massachusetts State Representative; Rev. Jeffrey Brown, Associate Pastor at the Historic Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury; Boston Police Sergeant Eddy Chrispin, President of the MA Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers, Inc.; Javier Flores, Partner at Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP and Jamarhl Crawford, Boston resident.
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 consulted with various 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, 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; John 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. Atiyah 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. 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.