MAYOR WALSH’s POLICE REFORMS : SOME GOOD, MORE NOT SO GOOD

walsh

Given what has been said and done this season against our police forces, I have looked at Mayor Walsh’s police proposals very skeptically. Was my reluctance justified by what I have read ? Read the task force recommendations for yourself, then tell me whether skepticism has any basis —->> https://www.scribd.com/document/475570498/Boston-Police-Reform-Task-Force-Recommendations-to-the-Mayor#from_embed?campaign=SkimbitLtd&ad_group=126006X1587340Xc4fd461afbde719210d7f3311239083d&keyword=660149026&source=hp_affiliate&medium=affiliate

To be clear : I am opposed to much of what has now been accepted by Mayor Walsh and even by Commissioner Gross.

The task force convened by Mayor Walsh began in biased circumstances and under political pressure from protesters and rioters. No elected official should EVER undertake anything thuis demanded :

the Mayor convened a Task Force when people across Boston and the United States were protesting police misconduct…”

The above statement proves too much. Just because accusations are laid of misconduct does not mean there was any.

“…that all too often has had deadly consequence for people of color and demanding institutional change to local law enforcement infrastructure.

“deadly consequence for people of color” has occurred, this we all know. But “all too often” suggest that such deaths are commonplace when they are no such thing. They are, in fact, very rare. Of course deadly consequences should never occur, for people of color or otherwise, and our society should insist that police departments require significant training and certification of all who seek to become officers. Governor Baker’s police training and certification bill ought to pass.

And now to the actual recommendations., all of which Mayor Walsh has agreed to :

 The Task Force recommends that the City and the BPD undertake the following:

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, to replace the Co-Op.

2.  Formalize and expand the BPD’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

3.  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.

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.

Item One : absolutely opposed. Police out on a call cannot be second-guessed by those who aren’t at the time and place or engaged in the circumstances. Here is where the current BPD’s de-escalation policy gives officers their principles. Here, too, is the crux of Governor Baker’s training and certification. It is crucial, when examining events after the fact, that the examination NOT be done by persons with an anti-police, accusatory agenda. Every profession regulates and polices its own. Why are police officers not entitled to the same self-governance respect ?

2. Conditional. Officers should always be chosen for their excellence and not for their biology. I would support diligent efforts being made to recruit officer applicants from every ethnic group and social identity interest; but who shows up, shows up; and who succeeds at the training academy succeeds. I also support ( 1 ) an application process that disqualifies persons actively belonging to militias, bigotry, or other such groups whose purposes pit people against one another ( 2 ) a preference for so-called “community policing.”

3. Officers say they approve the body camera device. If they approve it, I am OK with it. Crucial, however, that videos taken by body cameras never be selectively published. Publish it all, or do not publish, period. Too many of the recent cases in the news look very different wen all the video is published than they did when initially sensationalized.

4. I don’t like the accusatory, judgmental tone of this recommendation. Also note : disciplinary hearings should never, ever be public. First of all, reputations are at issue. Second, why would anyone ever seek a policed career if she knows that she will be second guessed constantly and that the merest complaint will cause her loss of reputation, job, and even peace in her off duty life ? Complaints must be written, signed by the person complaining, notarized, and put through an initial assessment before any kind of formal disciplinary hearing be scheduled.

Let’s note that the “emergency” police reform bills enacted by the two parts of our legislature have snoozed for months in committee, as legislators realize that there is no emergency and that much of what is in the two bills is unworkable, even unConstitutional. It is a shame that Mayor Walsh feels it politically important to enact what the legisalture has wisely deferred. I am hoping that once he is re-elected — as i am fairly sure he will be — he will let much of the Task force’s agenda fade away, as it should.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere