With the Boston police body camera pilot program due to start next month, no cops have volunteered to take part, with a police union chief saying the Dallas shootings changed things, while a minority officers’ group says its members are afraid the brass won’t have their back when problems arise.
Police Commissioner William B. Evans plans to roll out the pilot program in September, but has yet to attract any of the 100 volunteers needed, despite offering $500 bonuses.
“It is concerning that we’re not seeing the volunteers,” said BPD spokesman Lt. Detective Michael McCarthy. “That said, I do think the commissioner has made it very clear that he intends to have the pilot program in place in September.”
Patrick Rose, president of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, backs the plan, but said other concerns took precedence after police officers were shot dead in Dallas and Baton Rouge, La., when the union demanded more weapons and resources.
“It may be that the problem with officers actually volunteering occurred because of timing,” Rose said. “The city decided to agree to this program within a week of eight police officers being murdered in two separate cities and, meanwhile, our members were screaming for protection which was falling on deaf ears.”
But, Rose said, “The BPPA continues to support the agreement … and hopes that the city and department will also honor their commitments.”
Larry Ellison, a Boston police detective and head of the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers, said, “My membership doesn’t really trust that they will be treated fairly. They’re very skeptical that if somebody will have to be the sacrificial lamb, it will end up being an officer of color.”
Ellison said he’s struggled with his stance because body cameras are so widely supported in minority neighborhoods.
The department rejects that officers of color are disciplined more harshly. McCarthy said data presented to Ellison has shown white officers are actually disciplined at a higher rate, and pointed out that the patrolmen’s union, not MAMLEO, bargains on behalf of officers.
Bonnie McGilpin, a spokeswoman for Mayor Martin J. Walsh, said in a statement that the mayor “has continuously said that he will work closely with Commissioner Evans to ensure that the body-camera pilot program is implemented fairly and equitably.”
By Jack Encarnacao, Boston Herald
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