In an interview with Boston Public Radio Tuesday, Boston police commissioner Bill Evans said 100 officers have been randomly assigned to a mandatory body camera program, slated to begin September first. “There were a lot of challenges,” he said. “If I could snap my fingers and make this happen, I would.”

The looming deadline originally marked the expected rollout of a volunteer body camera program, in conjunction with the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association. Police officials agreed to test out the program for six months with 100 volunteers, but as of yet, not one officer has stepped forward, despite a $500 bonus incentive. “We bargained for the volunteers, and for whatever reason, they didn’t sign up,” Evans said. “Me and the mayor had a very productive meeting last night with the unions about it, and starting today, officers are going to be assigned.”

Evans said he hopes to put officers into training next week, but he expects a fight from the Patrolmen’s Association. “They’ll probably challenge us,” he said, “but that’s what the union does, they look out for their membership. Unless a court stops it, right now that’s the way we’re going.”

Evans' criticized his predecessor, former police commissioner Ed Davis, for siding with the police union. "He also sided with Uber," he said. "Here’s a guy who said that the ‘gold standard’ of fingerprinting was the best way to go, and obviously someone paid him to say something else. Obviously I’m a little disappointed that he gets involved in some of this dialogue, when the major city chiefs in Massachusetts all support it, I support it, and obviously he forgets where he came from."

According to Evans, officers have been randomly selected by Anthony Braga, the director of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northeastern University. “We had no input to who was chosen,” Evans said. “There are officers in there of all ages, all races, from five sections of the city, and our Youth Violence Task Force, and Anthony chose them, and based on what he can do for a productive study.”

Evans said the study will hopefully answer some long-standing questions about the application of body cameras in Boston, as opposed to other cities. “There have been a million studies out there,” he said. “There are mixed reviews out there, but I don’t think anyone can doubt, [after] what happened in Milwaukee, the benefits of wearing the camera. We’ve had three shootings over the last two years where cameras have been very beneficial.”

At the union meeting Monday night, Evans encouraged officers to embrace the program. “We have nothing to hide,” he told Boston Public Radio. “This is a good program, and I think the younger officers get it. The older officers, it’s a big change in the way they do policing, I think they’re the ones who are probably more reluctant, but I think the younger officers will see the benefits of it.”


Early this month, Governor Baker signed into law statewide regulations on ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. Evans criticized the bill for not requiring drivers to undergo fingerprinting, which he says the city uses to identify cab drivers with a criminal history of violent crime or sexual assault. “It’s a city ordinance, they have to be, and Commissioner Davis was the commissioner when that was signed,” Evans said. “It’s a safety thing. Already, three applicants I [talked] to had a history, and we disqualified them. I make it clear, if you have been locked up or its minor offenses, or it’s not too bad, it’s not going to disqualify you.”

Evans disagreed with claims from Uber and the NAACP that the fingerprinting program would prevent minorities with arrest records from becoming employed by ride-sharing services. “We have plenty of hackney drivers who have criminal records,” Evans said. “It’s only if it’s very violent, of if it’s sexual. That argument is a lot of baloney, and I don’t like them using the race card, and they used the same thing when it came to tips, on why they don’t want to give out, because people are less likely to tip minorities. I don’t like that they continue to play the race card in their argument.”

To hear Commissioner Evans’ full interview with Boston Public Radio, click on the audio link above.