“Race in Boston” Town Hall
July 19, 2016
In a letter sent today, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice called on Mayor Martin Walsh to take proactive steps to diversify the Boston Police Department (BPD) and to implement meaningful implicit bias training for all officers.
Recent polls confirm that tension and distrust exist between law enforcement and communities of color in Boston. A fundamental problem is the lack of diversity in BPD. Simply put, Boston is becoming increasingly diverse, but BPD is not.
Drawing on data that we secured through a public records lawsuit we recently filed against BPD, our letter shows that while Boston has become a majority-minority city, the police force is still approximately 65% White. The lack of diversity in BPD’s supervisory ranks is even more stark: less than one-fifth of supervisory officers are Black, Latino, or Asian.
With each passing year, BPD is looking less and less like the community that it serves. In the face of these numbers, city officials profess that their hands are tied. Last week, at a town hall on race, Boston’s Chief of Economic Development defended BPD arguing that the City could not do more because of vague and unspecified “barriers.”
In our letter, we set the record straight: some of the greatest barriers are created directly by the City. In fact, the City and BPD are aggressively fighting efforts to diversify the police force.
We call on Mayor Walsh to take proactive steps to improve diversity in BPD.
We also call on BPD to conduct ongoing implicit bias training for its officers.
Boston is just one incident away from becoming another Ferguson or Baton Rouge. We can avoid this if the City and BPD work closely with communities of color.
Our letter to Mayor Walsh is available here: http://lawyerscom.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Walsh-Letter-re-BPD-Final.pdf
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