Residents are being asked to provide community feedback during listening sessions of the Boston Police Reform Task Force starting July 22. The gathered input will be used to review the BPD's policies, practices, and to recommend reform measures. Residents are being asked to share their experiences on any of the four topics that are being covered:
The Body Worn Camera Program: Wednesday, July 22, 3-5 pm
Implicit bias training: Thursday, July 23, 3-5 pm
Strengthening Boston's existing police review board, known as the Co-op Board: Wednesday, July 29, 3-5 pm
Reviewing the use of force policies: Thursday, July 30, 3-5 pm
Testimony can also be submitted in any language either written or via the WebEx listening sessions. Written testimony can also be submitted before or after the listening sessions by emailing BPDTaskforce@boston.gov. You can also learn more information on how to participate at boston.gov/ending-racism. The Task Force will submit their initial recommendations by August 14, 2020.
We've all noticed that there has been an increase in renegade fireworks being shot off across the city this month. There have been so many complaints to the city that Mayor Walsh created a task force to tackle the issue of illegal fireworks. "Fireworks are a serious issue not only in the city of Boston, but all across the country. People lose sleep, babies get woken up, some people with PTSD experience real harms, pets are terrified and they're fire hazards," said Mayor Walsh. Fireworks calls to the Boston Police Department were up by 5,543% in June 2020 compared to the previous June, according to a city press release.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr was in Boston on Thursday and met with Boston Police Commissioner William Gross. That meeting sparked criticism from many elected officials, and led to Gross defending why he met with the controversial head of the Department of Justice. The U.S. Department of Justice tweeted out a photo of Barr and Gross shoulder-to-shoulder, and not wearing masks together in Boston. Supposedly it was the first time a sitting U.S. Attorney General had visited the Boston Police Department. As chief legal counsel to the president, Barr has most recently been widely condemned for ordering peaceful protestors to be teargassed in Washington D.C. to clear the way for President Trump to walk where the protestors were occupying so he could do a photo op.
Saying that Boston needs to be a leader in battling racism, Mayor Marty Walsh declared racism a public health crisis. He also announced that 20% or $12 million of the Boston Police Department's overtime budget will be reallocated as investments in equity and inclusion in the city. "In Boston, we embrace the opportunity this moment and this movement offers us," said Walsh on Friday. "We stand with our Black community and communities of color to lead the change toward a more just and equitable society. With these actions, we will increase equity in public safety and public health, and launch a conversation that can produce lasting, systemic change to eliminate all the ways that racism and inequality harm our residents."
Boston Police officers and fellow first responders lined the streets on Thursday as District E-13 Officer Jose Fontanez's body was escorted from Boston Medical Center to Jamaica Plain. District 6 City Councilor posted a video of the procession as it passed District E-13. First responders stood at attention while obeying social distancing as the hearse drove from Boston Medical Center to Mann & Rodgers Funeral Home in Jamaica Plain. Fontanez passed away from COVID-19 on Tuesday, becoming the first Boston Police officer to die from the disease. Fontanez was a 29-year veteran of BPD, and had been stationed out of District E-13 in Jamaica Plain since 1996.