BPD Invites Lateral Transfers Due to a “Dire” Staffing Issue

On January 6th, 2023, the Boston Police Department released a call for police officers from around the state to move into Boston to work for the Boston Police Department. This comes at a time when the Boston Police Department is experiencing incredibly low staffing levels.

Boston Police Department Commissioner Michael Cox speaks on this issue, saying, “Although we have made every effort to increase our ranks, retirements continue to have significant impacts on the day-to-day operations of the Department.” He adds that the Department’s goal is to increase their ranks by the Summer.

This plan was initially brought to the Boston Herald’s attention on December 27. In the letter to Association Executive Director Mark Leahy, he was asked to prepare for upcoming lateral transfers, otherwise known as the movement of a police officer from one department to another. Leahy did not comment on the contents of the letter to the Herald.

Police unions appear to agree with the sentiment that the Boston Police Department has been affected by both ongoing retirements and underfunding by the city. To Combat this issue, Mayor Michelle Wu funded an extra academy class in an attempt for the Department to obtain more staff.

Cox wrote a new letter to Leahy, further emphasizing the Department’s lateral transfer plan. He says, “our intent is to not have a significant impact on any one agency and we would take into consideration the needs of the Department and the Chief’s input, that has an Officer expressing interest in a lateral opportunity.”

Despite this move being largely supported, City Councilor Michael Flaherty does not seem to agree.

“I’m not convinced that poaching experienced officers from neighboring communities is going to solve the problem,” he said. Flaherty claims that he is actively looking into other solutions, such as raising the minimum and maximum ages for the Department to slow retirements.

This is not the first time the Department has made moves for lateral transfers to come to the city. Ed Davis, the 2007 commissioner, cites that, during this time, the move for lateral transfers was “very successful.”

“We got some very high-quality people. It’s healthy for organizations to inject new blood,” Davis told the Herald.

Former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis

Despite the success of these transfers in 2007, former Police Superintendent Chief Dan Linskey believes these transfers will be more difficult than they used to be, saying, “The challenge will be it only works if the department they’re coming from is willing to let them go.”

Linskey said that after the 2007 transfers, a few departments in the state cut off the Boston Police Department, meaning that getting transfers from these departments now would be very difficult. However, both Linskey and Davis told the Herald that they think the move for lateral transfers would be worth the risk.

The Boston Police Department is giving all interested candidates until January 27, 2023, to apply. Before then, the success of this move will still be pending.