Living in the Past- Boston Police Leadership Needs to Come into the 21st Century 

The Boston Police Department has been historically known for refusing to provide the public with officer’s body camera footage, or in reality any form of documents or images that are considered public record. In order to ensure the complete transparency and accountability that Commissioner Cox and other political figureheads have touted, body camera footage needs to be released and made available to all citizens in an expedited manner. Boston Police are currently behind the times, while several other cities such as New York and Los Angeles are more than willing to cooperate when it comes to releasing footage and even going as far as to provide the public with breakdowns for critical incidents.

In the past, our organization has had to fight tooth and nail with the Boston Police on several occasions just to merely to gain access to what should be readily available police reports and booking photos. Last month marked the first time since we began requesting footage, almost 3 years ago, that the department actually provided us with some of the requested body camera footage, without having to appeal and fight all the way to the attorney general’s office. The underlying issue behind this matter is leadership within the Boston Police, are just talking out of both sides of their mouth. Ironically, hurting the rank and file more so than anything.

These leaders care more about optics and politics than the men and women with a badge. It’s pathetic. This is not an issue of police reform, this is an issue of defending the reputation, trust, and respect of the officers who protect this city on a daily basis. The Boston Police Department needs to wake up and come to terms with the fact that they can’t hide behind blanket denials that are continuously overturned by the state’s appeal process.

When will they stop breaking the law on public records? In order to create a safer and more prosperous community, the Department needs to come into the 21st century, the modern age. We need to become a city where critical incident body worn camera footage is actively released in a quick and efficient manner. This will show the hard work of their men and women on the job, as well as give the public insight on what really goes down in our city. Policing isn’t always pleasant, but that doesn’t mean it should be hidden from the public.

This approach from the leadership of the Boston Police Department does not just demonstrate how out of touch the Command is, it also shows they have no issue leaving their officers out in the cold. Something that we really shouldn’t be surprised by, as more and more of the Top Cops become City Hall lackeys. On top of this, officers are already being forced to work unacceptable and excessive hours. Sources from within the department have stated at times they’ve had to work 24 hours straight. Their work goes unrecognized by the department, and members of the Boston community are completely unaware of the time and dedication officers put into the job.

Unsubstantiated targeted investigations opened by internal affairs is also a serious matter worth discussing. Sources within the department have told us and provided paperwork showing internal affairs opening additional complaints against officers on unfounded complaints, just to increase their numbers. But when we try to get the body worn camera footage to investigate, we are denied. What happened to transparency and accountability for all. Even after the countless orders from the State to provide the footage, the Boston Police still refuse to comply. The typical rules for thee but not for me approach.

The leadership process of Boston Police is broken and has failed us as a city, but more importantly it has failed their own officers who are willing to risk their lives for the safety of others. The simple truth is that bad cops exist. We know this. But that is the only footage that the public gets to see. Organizations like the Globe and ACLU have such deep pockets that they can fight these outrageous denials and get the footage of bad cops. Us? We are stuck with a limited budget doing what we can to showcase our city’s bravest with nothing but roadblocks and pushback from the department that should be doing this themselves.

Releasing body camera footage will not only shed light on the nature of crime and policing in our area, but it will show the countless acts of heroics and diligence that Boston officers perform on a daily basis in service to the City. The number one priority for Boston Police leadership should be to protect and promote their officers at all costs. They need to show the men and women of the department how valued they are, releasing body camera footage to the public will be a first step in the right direction. God knows it’s years overdue.