Rollins’s ‘Brady List’ not factoring in Boston police reform report
Database of officers accused of misconduct released late in task force process
MEMBERS OF A TASK FORCE charged with recommending reforms for the Boston Police Department say that a list of names of law enforcement officers accused or found guilty of misconduct will not factor in their final proposal to Mayor Marty Walsh.
Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins released the prosecutorial watch list Friday night with the names of 136 law enforcement officials whose behavior casts doubt on their credibility in court. The list included current or former Boston police officers, members of the State Police, Transit Police, and officers from Chelsea and Revere. Many of the officers have retired or left their departments, but 40 remain in active service.
A 1963 Supreme Court decision said prosecutors are obligated to turn over any information that could be useful to defense attorneys. Rollins’s release of the list follows similar previous moves to release names of local officers accused of misconduct by district attorneys in Middlesex and Norfolk counties. Berkshire DA Andrea Harrington released a list officers on Monday.
Law enforcement officers who testify in court must be “beyond reproach,” Rollins said in a statement when she released the list on Friday night.
Allison Cartwright, a public defender on the task force, nonetheless called the list the “tip of the iceberg” in terms the transparency that police departments should be subject to.
Other task force members said the overall principle of greater transparency on police misconduct issues was part of their discussions.
“This is clearly in the purview of what we discussed in our deliberations in terms of data,” said Joseph Feaster Jr., chairman of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts. He added that if Rollins wants to convene a task force about the so-called Brady disclosures, he’d be willing to serve on it.
The policing task force, chaired by former US attorney Wayne Budd, was named in June to help the city address issues of police brutality and systemic racism in policing. A 17-page draft report was released on September 9 is and a final one will be presented to Walsh soon.
The draft recommendations call for the Boston Police Department to create an independent office of police accountability and transparency with full investigatory and subpoena power to replace the city’s existing community oversight panel. A civilian review board would operate under the umbrella of that office to investigate complaints against police from the public, along with reviewing and resolving complaints made against the BPD’s internal investigation team.
The draft also recommended implicit bias training for officers, expansion of the current body camera program, and the hiring of an outside legal firm to study the department’s internal promotion system. The department will be asked to adopt policies to improve data collection and public access to records related to police misconduct.
“The patrolmen’s association has a seat at the table whenever a contract is negotiated,” said former Boston state representative Marie St. Fleur, a task force member. “It’s not often that the public has a voice in the process.”
About 120 members of the public commented on those recommendations at a public listening session last week, and another 73 submitted written comments.
Task force members include Boston Police Department Superintendent Dennis White, Darrin Howell, a political coordinator for 1199SEIU, Rev. Jeffrey Brown of 12th Baptist Church of Roxbury, resident Jamarhl Crawford, and other community leaders.Pressure for reform surged following the May 25 police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died under the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer.
In his 2021 budget proposal, Walsh proposed reallocating 20 percent, or $12 million, of the Boston Police Department’s overtime budget to be invested in community programs for youth, the Boston Public Health Commission, and other efforts.