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Police funding, tactics and technology to be front and center at Boston city-council meeting on Wednesday

The City Council's agenda for its regularly scheduled Wednesday meeting includes a number of items that could lead to changes in the way the Boston Police Department operates.

The first item on the agenda is a request from the mayor to approve a $1.3 million Justice Department grant for "equipment, supplies and training to safely carry out community policing efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic," a matter that probably would have passed with little discussion just a month ago, but which is now fraught with issues from events of the past couple of weeks, both nationally and in Boston.

The council may also vote on a proposed ordinance that would prohibit police from using facial-recognition technology.

Following that possible vote, the council will consider requests from councilors for hearings on a series of police-related matters, including a demand that the mayor and BPD hand over information on how police have become "militarized," specifically, details on "the use of military style tactics and weapons, particularly in the context of monitoring public demonstrations, protests, and rallies; and other internal communications or guidance governing the use of rubber or plastic bullets and tear gas." A separate request calls for a hearing on BPD's use of "non-lethal force restraint tactics."

Councilors will also consider calling a hearing to look at the role campus police departments in the city play in dealing with public demonstrations and how they work with BPD and a separate hearing on the role of BPD at BPS schools and the use of restorative justice to handle school issues.

Also on the agenda: A resolution calling on the MBTA to stop closing T stops near protests and a request for a hearing on "ways for the City to prevent and investigate incidents of hate crimes and discrimination."

The meeting begins at noon and can be seen on the council YouTube channel).




The Council is jumping on every angle of police criticism that's out there instead of prioritizing one or two actionable items they can get the mayor to agree to.
It's not clear how they can do all of this at once at the end of the budget process and still allow the city to focus on the COVID crisis.
It's also not clear where they will get the moral authority to beat the mayor over the head with all this stuff when they themselves have been rubber-stamping police contracts and budgets year after year.

Voting closed 15

Is an excellent proposal, Shutting down the stations when thousands of people of color were protesting peacefully and keeping them open when thousands of drunken white suburbanites invade Boston for Saint Patrick's day and sports celebrations was not only wrong but racist.

Voting closed 10