A report card of police body camera policies around the country by a national civil rights coalition gives Boston Police a bad grade. This comes before the city’s body camera pilot program has even started.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the technology consultancy Upturn based their evaluation on a draft of Boston’s body camera policy that was published by the Boston Globe. In a press call, Harlan Yu of Upturn criticized the plan, saying the department may limit access to footage.
“They rely on Massachusetts' public records law to provide any access to footage, so if you are a potential complainant, there’s no special way to get access," Yu said. "You have to go through the public records process, which might be slow and there might be exceptions that prohibit the release. They allow their officers to view the footage before writing their initial reports.”
Yu said that would allow police to tailor statements to appear to be more accurate than other witness statements. The report also criticizes the BPD policy for not prohibiting footage from being tampered with or erased. Boston Police Commissioner says the body camera pilot could begin this month. A spokesperson for the department says they are reviewing the report.