Mayor to file ordinance to create Office of Police Accountability and Transparency
In keeping with his commitment to taking swift action on police reform, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced he will file an ordinance with the Boston City Council to create the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency to enact the Boston Police Reform Task Force recommendations. Mayor Walsh today also signed two executive orders to create Boston’s first-ever Civilian Review Board, and to create a stronger Internal Affairs Oversight Panel, both as recommended by the Task Force.
“Our goal is to achieve historic change in Boston and create a national model for breaking down systemic racism across all aspects of our city,” said Mayor Walsh. “The recommendations we are enacting today represent the voices of the community advocating for change, and I thank the Task Force for their incredibly hard work in creating this report that we are bringing to life through reforms. We will continue this work as we come together to build a more equitable, just city.”
The Boston Police Reform Task Force was charged with reviewing a set of current Boston Police Department's policies and procedures, and presenting recommendations for action and reform. Mayor Walsh charged the Task Force with four main areas of review: Use of Force policies; Implicit Bias Training, the Body-worn Camera Program, and the Community Ombudsman Oversight Panel (CO-OP). Mayor Walsh has accepted all of the Task Force’s recommendations, and is in the process of implementing them.
Mayor Walsh today signed two executive orders to further enact the recommendations of the Boston Police Reform Task Force. The first executive order creates Boston’s first-ever Civilian Review Board of this kind, a 9-member board that will be made up of community members nominated by the City Council and the Mayor’s Office.
The second Order reconstitutes Boston’s Community Ombudsman Oversight Panel (CO-OP) and transforms it into a stronger Internal Affairs Oversight Panel (IAOP). This panel will have the power to review all completed Internal Affairs cases. Previously, the CO-OP could review 20 percent of cases. In addition to cases, it would be able to review the policies and procedures of Internal Affairs, as well as engage with the community about their impact.
The ordinance, which will be filed next week, would create the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency (OPAT), a key recommendation of the Boston Police Reform Task Force. OPAT would provide intake services, research, and administrative support to the Civilian Review Board and the Internal Affairs Oversight Panel, and the OPAT Commission would have subpoena power to investigate misconduct. This structure would create a single point of public access to a new standard in police accountability and community oversight.
The City of Boston has already begun the process of searching for an executive director to lead the Office of Accountability and Transparency (OPAT). The Executive Director will lead the Executive Administration, a branch within the OPAT structure. The City is launching a search to find an executive director who is a member of the Massachusetts bar, and is equipped to lead this pivotal new office, bring on staff members, and execute its charge.
"The Boston Police Reform Task Force recommendations laid out plans for real reform at the Boston Police Department,” said Boston Police Reform Task Force Chairman Wayne Budd. “These actions today will further the goals of the Task Force, and we look forward to these recommendations creating change in our city.”
In addition to the City’s work to create OPAT, the Civilian Review Board and Internal Affairs Oversight Panel (IAOP), Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston have already taken steps to enact the Task Force’s additional recommendation. Mayor Walsh has filed a Home Rule Petition at the Boston City Council that would give Boston high school graduates a preference in police hiring, a key step to increasing diversity and having more officers drawn from the communities they are serving. Mayor Walsh also charged Chief of Equity Karilyn Crockett and other City leaders to work with the Boston Police Department on updating their policies through an equity lens, and creating a Diversity and Inclusion Unit in the Department.
This work builds on the City of Boston’s commitment to equitable public safety offices. 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.
"The Boston Police Department is committed to helping our communities, and continuing to serve the people of Boston,” said Boston Police Commissioner William Gross. “These actions will help our department continue our goal to become a stronger, more equitable force for public safety.”
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.
These final recommendations represent the tireless work of the Boston Police Task Force members, and valuable feedback from the Boston community. Throughout its process, the Task Force held five separate public listening sessions, and received over 100 pieces of testimony from the community, over the course of two written comment periods.
The final report and full recommendations are available online.