Janey: Cops who abuse power ‘will not be protected’

BOSTON — Aiming to repair the “fabric of trust” between police and communities of color, Boston Mayor Kim Janey unveiled a series of reforms Tuesday including the launch of a new law enforcement oversight office tasked out of the gate with reviewing the case of a former top officer who kept his job after allegedly sexually assaulting a child.

Janey announced that her fiscal year 2022 budget recommendation set to be released Wednesday would slash Boston Police Department overtime spending by $21 million, a third lower than the current fiscal year, and would direct $1 million to stand up an Office of Police Accountability and Transparency.

In a press conference outlining her law enforcement proposals Tuesday, Janey pointed to several instances of police violence and racial injustice gripping national headlines, including the ongoing murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and the fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.

“As mayor, I am committed to ensuring safety, healing and justice in every Boston neighborhood,” Janey, who became the city’s first Black and first female executive when she became acting mayor last month, said. “I understand that the fabric of trust between the Boston Police Department and Boston residents has worn thin in parts of our city, especially in communities of color. To repair the fabric that binds our communities together, we must prioritize transparency and accountability.”

Janey selected attorney and former state representative candidate Stephanie Everett to lead OPAT starting later this month, and Everett will hire a nine-member staff.

The office plans to conduct an independent probe into the case of former Boston police officer Patrick Rose, who was arrested last year on multiple charges of indecent assault against a child.

The Boston Globe reported Saturday that BPD in 1995 filed a criminal complaint against Rose for sexual assault on a 12-year-old. That complaint was dropped, the Globe reported, and an internal affairs investigation concluded that Rose likely committed a crime, but he remained on the force for two decades more and eventually became the president of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association.

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The Walsh administration declined to release the internal affairs files to the Globe, saying they could not be sufficiently redacted to protect the victims’ identities, but Janey said Tuesday that the city would make redacted versions available by the end of the week.

“Transparency cannot wait any longer,” Janey said. “As we now know, an alleged child molester was allowed to remain on the police force and rise through the ranks of the Patrolmen’s Union for two decades. As a mother and as a grandmother, I was heartbroken and angry to learn that nothing was done to keep Mr. Rose away from children or to terminate him for that matter after serious charges were found to be credible by a BPD internal affairs probe in 1995.”

“The likes of Patrick Rose will not be protected on my watch, and those who are complicit in abuses of power will be held to account,” Janey added.

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins, whose office is prosecuting Rose, said she hopes that quick release of “appropriately redacted records will put an end to this re-traumatizing nightmare for the survivors of these crimes.”

“It is not their fault that Patrick Rose, Sr. is a public figure and that the community seeks transparency regarding the Boston Police’s actions, or inactions, back in 1995,” Rollins said in a statement Tuesday. “I acknowledge that there is a tension here between the public’s right to transparency and a victim’s right to privacy. I also know that hate and harm often breed in silence, but these individuals deserve the privacy protections that our Massachusetts laws guarantee them as victims of sexual assault.”

The impending launch of Boston’s police oversight office comes less than two weeks after the state’s top executive and law enforcement officials named their selections to the new Massachusetts Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, a new civilian-majority panel created in a police reform law that Gov. Charlie Baker signed last year. The commission will develop standards for law enforcement, certify officers and revoke certification for violations.

Former Mayor Martin Walsh created the city’s OPAT in January after it was the primary recommendation of the Boston Police Reform Task Force, and Janey’s announcement puts the idea into practice with funding and a leader.

The office will house a new Civilian Review Board and an Internal Affairs Oversight Panel, and it will have subpoena power to help perform its work of achieving community oversight and transparency around policing in Boston.

Everett is a former Beacon Hill aide and an attorney who today runs her own private practice. Last year, she ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in the 12th Suffolk District House race.

“I have spent my entire career fighting to give voice to those who are underrepresented, and that’s exactly how I’ll approach my work as the Executive Director of OPAT,” Everett said in a statement. “I have tremendous respect for our police officers who carry out their duties with integrity, compassion and empathy for the people they serve. Ensuring that those values are the standard across the entire force and that any misconduct is brought to light and handled appropriately is OPAT’s charge.”

Janey suggested several other reforms at BPD as part of a push to “reimagine how we respond to crisis in our city.” Her FY22 budget would cut overtime spending at the department by a third from FY21, which Janey said can be achieved in part by expanding the police force by 30 officers.

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Janey proposed expanding the police cadet program by half, with a goal of adding 20 new officers to the police force who better represent the city’s diversity. She also called for boosting funding to BPD’s Medical Triage Unit and clinicians to help inactive officers either return to work or depart the payroll.

Janey’s office declined to say how much her budget directs toward BPD as a whole. In response to a question at Tuesday’s press conference, she said it calls for an “almost 5 percent cut.”

“To do much deeper than that would only exacerbate the overtime that people seek to eliminate,” Janey said. “There’s 10 percent of the force that is out on sick leave. Part of that reduction calling for a third of the overtime budget to be cut will require that we all do our part, and it will also require that we look at the number of officers out on sick leave. Those who are able to come back, we certainly want to help them do just that.”

Janey charged her chief of housing to develop additional supports for relocating families impacted by homicide so that survivors do not need to live at crime scenes.

She also asked Boston Police Department Superintendent-in-Chief Greg Long and Boston Chief of Health and Human Services Marty Martinez to deliver a pilot program within 90 days that would “amplify the role of mental health clinicians and reduce the role of police officers in responding to mental health crises.”