The office is intended to regulate police misconduct.
Mayor Marty Walsh signed an ordinance creating the new Office of Police Accountability and Transparency on January 4. He joined together with members of the Boston Police Reform Task Force, chairman Wayne Budd, and Boston Police Commissioner William Gross in a virtual ceremony. The office will house the Civilian Review Board, which investigates complaints from the public, and the Internal Affairs Oversight Panel, and an administrative arm. It will have subpoena power to call upon witnesses and demand documents.
“Now is the time to act with urgency to dismantle systemic racism across our city,” said Walsh, in a press release. “The Office of Police Accountability and Transparency will support lasting, generational change by rooting out impropriety and ensuring the type of enhanced oversight that leads to greater community trust. This is an important milestone, but it’s only the beginning.”
While the establishment of the new office is a step towards transformation of policing systems, many have said that the ordinance is not robust enough. Right on the heels of the signing, Walsh vetoed another ordinance that would have restricted police use of tear gas and rubber bullets, according to an article from WBUR. In the story, City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo called the veto “disappointing” and said that the regulation of these weapons is the “bare minimum we can do.” The Boston Police Department remains quite savage, as illustrated in a post by Dig Boston’s Chris Faraone.
Shira Laucharoen is a reporter based in Boston. She currently serves as the assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. In the past she has written for Sampan newspaper, The Somerville Times, Scout Magazine, Boston Magazine, and WBUR.