Mayor Martin Walsh on Tuesday embraced a punch-list of “bold and comprehensive” policies intended to reform the Boston Police Department. Standing alongside members of a task force he appointed last summer, Walsh pledged to implement their plan quickly.
“I accept and endorse each of these principles and today I can announce that I will use every tool at my disposal to make this a reality,” said the mayor. “In the coming weeks I will take the necessary actions to create the office of police accountability and transparency that will house a civilian review board with subpoena powers to conduct investigations and an internal affairs oversight panel that builds on and strengthens the existing co-op board.”
Led by former US Attorney Wayne Budd, the task force was charged with reviewing current BPD policies and procedures. They focused on Use of Force policies; Implicit Bias Training; the Body-worn Camera Program; and the Community Ombudsman Oversight Panel (CO-OP), which has been the subject of scrutiny for years.
“There may be some who say we went too far with our recommendations, others who say we didn’t go far enough,” said Budd. “In my view, however, we have more than met expectations and have no doubt that our work will prove to be of great value to the mayor, the citizens of the city of Boston, and perhaps the communities well beyond.”
The task force called for the creation of an independent Office of Police Accountability and Transparency (“OPAT”), with full investigatory and subpoena powers and an independent diversity and inclusion unit. It also told Walsh he should expand the body-worn camera program and a continue an existing ban of biometrics and facial recognition software. The task force calls for implementation no later than 80 days.
Walsh said that his administration is in the process of creating a job posting for Administrator of the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency, and that he will “immediately direct Chief of Equity Dr. Karilyn Crockett and a cross cabinet team of leaders to support the BPD in creating the diversity and inclusion unit.”
Walsh added that on Monday he will file a home rule petition with the City Council and ultimately with the Legislature to amend the civil service rules that govern police department hirings.
“This position will establish a preference for graduates of Boston Public Schools, METCO, or any schools in the Boston Compact, which includes charter and parochial schools,” he said.
This will build on the success of our police cadet program by developing a new pipeline for diverse Boston residents into law enforcement careers.”