The president of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association said Tuesday that instead of creating a new independent office to oversee city police's handling of misconduct claims, which Mayor Marty Walsh said he supports, the city should focus on reforming the current Community Ombudsman Oversight Panel.
"When we’re talking about the ombudsman panel that has not done their job in three years, or has not been staffed appropriately in three years, that is not the responsibility of the Patrolmen’s Association. That falls on City Hall,” said Larry Calderone, president of the city's largest police union, in an interview on Boston Public Radio. "If that panel’s not being staffed, if that panel’s not doing their job, then get a new panel and staff it, and have them do their job.”
The Community Ombudsman Oversight Panel, or Co-Op, is currently in charge of reviewing select findings by the Boston Police Department's Internal Affairs Division, on allegations of police brutality and other misconduct. But it’s been criticized by proponents of police reform as toothless, largely because the panel doesn't have subpoena power or the legal authority to compel officers to testify before them.
Walsh last week said he will accept all of the final recommendations given by his Boston Police Reform Task Force, established this summer after widespread protests against police brutality swept the city, which includes the proposed establishment of an independent Office of Police Accountability and Transparency. This office would have subpoena power and could compel officers to testify.
Calderone said establishing a new office merely creates “a new bureaucracy."
“They want to spend millions of taxpayer dollars creating it. … It seems like it’s about jobs and money. And there’s much better ways to spend the money in the city of Boston,” he said.
A city of Boston spokesperson said in a statement to GBH News after Calderone's interview that the Patrolmen’s Association "does not have authority on this matter and it does not need to be bargained.”
Calderone also said that he doesn't believe prejudice plays a role in the wide racial disparity of Boston Police stops. In June, GBH News reported that according to BPD data, Black people make up 70% of Boston police stops, though they represent less than one quarter of the city's population.
"If the [Boston Police] department says those are the statistics, and they believe … that there is a racial issue within the department, then that’s the hierarchy’s job to make sure that they train officers appropriately and make sure it’s not happening,” he said.
GBH News' Isaiah Thompson contributed to this report.