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Walsh commits to police oversight board with subpoena power

COVID-19 Media Availability 10-13-20

Mayor Walsh said today he agrees with recommendations of a police-accountability task force and will work to set up a new office with a civilian review board that can investigate complaints against police officers - with the power to subpoena both officers and documents.

Walsh said the new Office of Police Accountability and Transparency will be staffed with a full-time lawyer to serve as its executive director, and that the city is starting this week to find candidates. Walsh said this person will also get a budget to hire additional staffers. In addition to the civilian review board, the office will also get an Internal Affairs Oversight Panel to review internal-affairs investigations completed by BPD's own detectives.

We must be a city and a country where every single person receives equal protection and equitable opportunity. 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.

The mayor continued that he will formally ask the state legislature to amend the civil-service rules that govern BPD hiring to give preference to officer candidates who have graduated from BPS or Metco schools, one of the recommendations by the task force:

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.

BPD will get a new Diversity and Inclusion unit that will start with "updating [BPD] internal policies to reflect the Department's commitments to equity and bias-free policing

Walsh said he also agreed with the task force to continue to expand the use of body cameras by officers - and to continue to ban the use of facial-recognition and biometrics software.

Boston Police Reform Task Force - page has the task force's complete report to the mayor and background information.

Note: Although the video is titled "Covid-19 Media Availability," it is about the police recommendations.

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Comments

The police union contract is up soon. Either Walsh is serious and makes some substantial changes to this contract or he continues to roll over and nothing changes.

The union contract determines the future of policing in Boston. Little else matters.

Your move, Mr. Mayor.

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blue flu coming on

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We're trying a new approach to admissions at BLS, why not BPD?

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Who would want to join the police?

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If you have to follow rules, what's in it for them?

Can't expect law enforcement to actually ... you know ... follow rules and laws, amirite?

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I think there's probably a small overlap in the Venn diagram of people who want the authority that being a cop conveys, and people who are committed to obeying rules. The people we want to be cops are in that overlap. I'm sure they exist. How do we attract them?

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How do you attract anyone to a job?

You pay them a lot of money. And that’s not something people are/would be comfortable with for policing, we are trying to actively defund them instead.

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Police officers are paid plenty. Counterpoint: remove the "once hired never fired" from the job, and you'll get people who want to do the job for reasons other than abusing their fellow citizens with impunity.

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That’s kind of silly don’t you think?

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...apart from the fact that teachers aren't paid well and can't abuse their fellow citizens with impunity, I suppose you might...have...something resembling a point?

(really dude?)

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Do you think people aren’t taking the job because they can’t be fired? That’s what you implied. That’s kind of silly. That’s very silly actually.

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More like who would ever want to work at a place where terrible co-workers can never be fired?

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I mean, the hole watching money is a scam but even still you can make solid middle class living with excellent benefits as a cop, right? Lot of people looking for work out there.

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Where else will D students get paid 6 figures to stand around construction sites?

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But your also a racist POS. Although it is pretty clear that you have some mental health issues and/or a low IQ but I actually kind of agree with you in this one.

(PS they don’t require college degrees/GPAs because that would favor wealthy white applicants).

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If you think cutting police pay is the whole ballgame, fine.
But it's really not what the community wants when nearly a quarter of the force is African American. They are a huge part of the Black middle class in Boston.

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Per Chief Gross, those are actually blue middle class because the BPD doesn't see color.

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Cops should be like doctors: Well paid but with years of training and rigorous procedures.

Right now any change the city wants to make needs to get approved by the union. It's part of the reason the body cam requirement isn't universal. Officer complaints and findings from internal investigations are kept from the public even when the officer was found at fault. It is nearly impossible to fire an officer. And the arbitration proceedings are almost always in the officer's favor.

That's the sort of thing which needs to change. Pay police well but require comprehensive oversight. Make it easy to terminate officers.

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Take a look at the top paid public employees at the state or city level. The amount money we throw at them is not the issue in attracting the necessary talent.
The favoritism for veterans and other nonsensical thumbs on the scale is a big factor.

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Police work can be hard so I wouldn't mind the fact they are the highest paid if they had real oversight and regulation. But right now the union contracts ensure they are the most protected and least transparent occupation. That's a huge problem.

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Do you think law enforcement is the hardest job in the public sector?
Do you think the supply and demand curves for LEOs necessitates the highest pay?

I can think of zero rational bases for the amount of cash we shovel into officers' pockets. It a perfect example of raw political capture.

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Being forced to work nights, holidays and special events where you might need to have some sort of physical presence with the potential to use it is I’m assuming the one reason most people can or can’t do that job (or want/don’t want to do it). You also have to have conversations with people, and many people simply don’t like any job where you have to solve any sort of problem some random person has, even an easy problem (eg: Person blocking a driveway and someone refused to move).

The issue with police jobs is that due to the nature of shift work and manpower, they have opportunities for OT which you don’t see in other jobs. There was a while (haven’t looked at city contracts in a while) where precinct custodians were paid more per hour than police officers were. I’d say at least 50% of offficers don’t want any OT. They want to work their 40 hours a week and go home. They know the nature of shift work jobs don’t go like that though.

Every now and then I get a check from the City of Boston at the teachers rate (long story). The last one I got gets broken down per hour, and it’s about $95 or so when I got one a few years ago. Many police officers can’t teach or go into the education field for all sorts of reasons. But if you do guess what? You get weekends and summers off at a rate around $75-$115 the way they beak it down now.

Anyway, there are all sorts of factors into how city workers get paid. Labor laws dictate pretty much all of this though.

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"Being forced to work nights, holidays and special events where you might need to have some sort of physical presence with the potential to use it is I’m assuming the one reason most people can or can’t do that job (or want/don’t want to do it). You also have to have conversations with people"

You think that makes police work special?

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Seriously, this reminds me of like 99% of all resort jobs, with the difference that those are minimum wage.

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We can feel bad for anyone who works on Christmas or at 2in the morning. Probably one of the reasons no one wants to work those jobs too don’t you think?

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I agree with you Pete and as I've said, I think focusing on the pay is missing the picture.

BUT, it's a bit disingenuous to say the pay is determined by the laws as if the police are powerless. Those laws were written by lobbyists for the public unions. This is just another way how the police have done a great job reinforcing their authority. The laws can and should be changed. Wage regulations should be determined by experts in public policy and economists, not via lobbying from people who stand to personally benefit. (Most of these policies shouldn't be "laws" regardless.)

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When union attorneys argue for wages, compensation, benefits, working conditions, etc, they will often site judges decisions from national case (Western Electrician Union versus City of Reno). there aren’t any “laws” which dictate police officers need to get x benefit or y benefit. They almost always fall into the realm of federal labor laws (FSLA, etc)

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A requirement to have police flaggers and construction details is uniquely Massachusetts. Every time someone tries to change that, the police unions but back hard and win.

The OT is a federal matter but that's irrelevant - It's local law which requires these types of assignments and the OT which follows.

There was a great Globe article recently about how BPD is requiring officers to physically walk documents to courthouses when they could be sent electronically. And even if that "assignment" only takes a few minutes, the officer will get 4 hours OT. That is not in anyone's best interest except for the officer personally.

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That is all federal law stuff. Poor management practices would be the “walking paperwork to court for 4 hours”. That isn’t a state law issue.

Details go by cities and towns. I’ve said this a million times. The city of Boston has negotiated for the police to pay higher health insurance premiums and take lower raises in exchange for detail rates. Then it is up to individual cities and towns to decide whether or not they require their transportation rules or regulations to require officers to control traffic. Then the city gets a % on top of every detail. I’ve worked in Law enforcement in two other places in the US and there is a detail list everywhere. You want to lower laborer wages for unions and have them be flaggers? That’s a separate issue. In the end I don’t think cities care about details because they don’t cost them anything and the make money off them and the made money when they bargained for them. If you change that law 75% of those details would require an officer anyway and it probably wouldn’t matter. The city would lose money on that deal. (FWIW i could care less about details but know the city doesn’t want to lose them for the reason I layer out above)

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And maybe it's not correct, is that if a cop is working a full time job but can also make easy, fat money working a ton of extra hours on details, it would seem to incentivize them to work too many hours on the padding leaving them less effective at critical public safety work. If you're working 70 hours a week, I don't believe you are going to do as good a job as if you're working 40-50 hours. Now sure, they could also go work at Costco or something and still work that many extra hours but it's a lot more tempting when the work required is easy and the pay is high.

As for the city doesn't pay, sure, but the utilities pass along the costs of non-civilian flaggers to us, their customers so it's not like free money.

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But people the costs are minimal and get spread through the country, sometimes the world (National grid is a British company). The flag cars are going to be paid close to the same or more in many cases (Boston especially) so that really can’t be an issue.

In terms of the 80 hours a week that can be true to an extent. But working overnight or until midnight is often much worse in my opinion than working during the day and then extra hours here and there within reason.

The bottom line in this argument is that if the city had a list of 100 things they want from the police in terms of saving money and negotiating work rules, details aren’t in there. The city has never brought them up.

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If the union contract means you can't be fired after beating someone and then lying about it, then the oversight board can't be effective.

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Having an Oversight Board or a Review Board, preferably a Civilian Oversight or Review Board is an idea that's long overdue. If Mayor Walsh has one implemented in Boston, here's hoping that Somerville and other cities and towns here in the Commonwealth will follow suit.

If more cities and towns here in the United States overall implemented Civilian Oversight or Review Boards, that would go a long, long way towards making police departments and cops, generally, accountable for the way in which cops treat people more equally, and not have so many innocent people killed or seriously injured due to abuse of power by cops.

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Where do we draw the line? If someone shoots at BPD what is BPD supposed to do?

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...of non sequiturs.

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I had at least two detectives and one officer I could have proved lied in court proceedings but I had no way to deal with it at the time without bankrupting myself and putting myself in danger of retribution from the friends of those cops.

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