Body Cameras Will Help Bring Accountability to Boston Police Department

Police Accountability, Racial Justice


Obstructionist Police Union Lawsuit Should Be Dismissed

Police departments across the country have begun equipping officers with body cameras, as research shows that their use reduces use-of-force and citizen complaints. At a time of increasing tension between law enforcement and communities of color, a properly-implemented body camera policy helps provide accountability that is necessary for building community trust.

Unfortunately, Boston is behind this curve of progress.  Earlier this summer, the City announced a limited, pilot program where 100 officers would be outfitted with body cams. When no volunteers for the program came forward, the City assigned officers to wear the new equipment.

Now a lawsuit by Boston’s largest police union threatens even this limited progress. The Superior Court is considering whether to grant an injunction sought by the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association to stop the pilot program from going into effect.

The police union’s obstructionist lawsuit is highly troubling. It seeks to block a key tool of transparency and accountability. Moreover, it follows closely on the heels of demands from the union for more weapons and armor instead. Together, these moves show a contempt for community policing that is both disturbing and divisive.

We urge the Superior Court to reject the union’s attempt to block progress. We also call upon Boston Police Department leadership to themselves wear body cams, to demonstrate their commitment to the program. Particularly for communities of color and low-income communities, police accountability is critical. The City’s pilot program, even with its limitations, is a step in the right direction and should be allowed to go forward.

On September 8, 2016, the Boston Police Department confirmed that the command staff will wear body cameras following our suggestion.  This development was featured in the Boston Herald.