Boston mayoral candidate Andrea Campbell, who pushed for police reform months before George Floyd’s death ignited a wave of protests last summer, called Monday for acting Mayor Kim Janey Monday to release Boston Police Department records related to a former officer and police union president accused of child molestation — and whether the police department may have covered up his crimes.
Janey's interim status is widely seen as a huge advantage in her campaign to fill the spot left open when former Mayor Marty Walsh became U.S. Secretary of Labor. But the news, published Sunday by The Boston Globe, that former officer Kenneth Rose Sr. has been implicated in an internal police investigation into sexual abuse, and the uncertain status of suspended Commissioner Dennis White, underscore that the executive chair can be as much of a hot seat as a catbird seat.
“Former Mayor Marty J. Walsh and his administration declined to release the relevant documents, although the state supervisor of public records said the city had failed to meet its legal threshold to withhold those records," Campbell said during a press conference in front of City Hall on Monday. "I sincerely hope that acting mayor Janey will reverse the previous administration’s refusal to release these records. This continued lack of transparency and accountability is absolutely unacceptable. Every minute of delay further erodes public trust and denies victims justice."
Campbell, who chairs the Boston City Council’s Committee on Public Safety and Criminal Justice, said she filed a formal request for information from the administration on behalf of the council, which put out a unanimous statement Sunday afternoon calling for a “full independent investigation and reform” of BPD reporting mechanisms.
Councilor Lydia Edwards, who represents East Boston, appeared alongside Campbell on Monday and said the “call out” was not just for Janey or the police department, but for the very reputation of the city of Boston.
“The fact is, this is a chilling, silent, horrible moment for many people," Edwards said. "It’s triggering. They went to the people who were supposed to protect us, and instead, they hid a predator. Unless we get those documents, and unless we demonstrate that morally as a city, we no longer find and cannot stand the thought that [Rose] was able to have that much power for decades … unless we get that done, we have failed as a city. We have failed as an administration.”
The council is seeking documents on how Rose’s case was handled, including details of any efforts to obscure the accusations against him and how disciplinary decisions were made when top brass became aware of the accusations.
Campbell, who launched her mayoral bid with a personal narrative similar to Janey’s — a daughter of Boston whose experiences in a segregated and unequal city drives her desire to cultivate equity throughout the city — is no doubt seeking to distinguish herself as the two Black women compete to pass the city’s September preliminary election.
Other Boston police reform voices echoed Campbell’s call for Janey to release records Monday.
Councilor and mayoral candidate Michelle Wu said in a statement that the situation represents a “horrific breach” of public confidence that continues as long as mayoral administrations refuse to release internal affairs records.
Another councilor and mayoral candidate, Annissa Essaibi George, posted on social media Sunday that Rose's records should be made public public: "This cover-up culture must become a thing of the past."
State Rep. Jon Santiago, also a mayoral candidate, said in a statement to GBH News, "All records should be released immediately.”
Joseph Feaster, who was one of 11 appointed by Walsh to serve on last year’s BPD reform panel, said the Rose situation is indicative of why the group’s reforms should be swiftly implemented. Feaster, an attorney at the firm McKenzie & Associates, said "it seems" that the initial allegations against Rose were "swept under the rug."
"That’s what we want to eradicate," he added.
Feaster has been a vocal supporter of White, who was placed on leave shortly after his appointment as a result of domestic violence allegations. White’s internal affairs documents have also been withheld despite public records requests, including one from GBH News.
Campbell said Monday that if the city is serious about transparency, it should release the records as a matter of practice.
“That includes information about the diversity of our department, which we have yet to release … that includes information about our budget numbers, our traffic stops,” she said.
Shortly after 6pm Monday, Janey’s office released a statement indicating that she intends to release the internal affairs file after a legal vetting.
“I have instructed the City’s Law Department, as counsel for the Boston Police Department, to immediately review former police officer Patrick Rose’s internal affairs file,” she said pointing the dual objectives of preserving victims’ privacy and the “compelling obligation” to ensure transparency with the public.
Janey is expected to further address the issue with funding for the proposed Office of Police Accountability and Transparency in the upcoming budget, which will be released Wednesday.