The Office of Police Accountability and Transparency Commission discussed citizen complaints and reform practices and announced plans for future operations at its first community meeting on Monday.
On the recommendation of the Boston Police Reform Task Force, the OPAT was established by the mayor’s office in January to independently investigate and review police services in the city. Three main branches have formed within the Office: the Civil Review Board, the Internal Affairs Review Group and the OPAT Commission.
“The purpose of the OPAT is to provide a single point of entry for people with concerns or complaints related to the Boston Police Department and its officers and sworn personnel to be heard and dealt with,” the order states. creating the office.
This meeting was the first of the OPAT since its official creation in the summer when the ordinance creating it came into force. The meeting was postponed from its original date a week ago due to lack of prior public notice.
Executive Director Stephanie Everett told the meeting that the OPAT had received an abuse of power complaint filed against the Boston Police Department since July 1. complaint against the police as a whole.
According to Everett, the OPAT is working on other policy prescriptions for the TPL, such as use of force policies and the expansion of body camera use.
The OPAT is also actively working to finalize a policy on domestic violence and sexual assault in the coming weeks, she added.
The city of Boston and the BPD are working together to comply with the new policies set out in the Massachusetts Police Reform Bill and the recommendations of the Boston Police Reform Task Force, Everett said during the meeting.
These new policies include data transparency, the creation of dashboards with information on shootings and deaths in custody.
“We look forward to being another way for our community to engage and help us really do the work that the task force recommendations really set in the spirit of their work,” Everett said during the meeting.
Community members learned at the meeting about investigations and penalties for police misconduct, lack of hired personnel and disclosure of police data.
“We encourage information to come from the community in any form to help guide the work we do at OPAT in the office,” Everett said at the meeting.
The Boston Police Department could not be reached for comment at the time of posting. Everett of the Police Accountability and Transparency Office could not be reached for an interview at the time of publication.
Tanisha Sullivan, president of the NAACP in Boston and a member of the Boston Police Reform Task Force, said in an interview that she and other members of the task force were concerned about the slow progress of the ‘OPAT.
“[I’m] very concerned about the pace at which the Civil Review Board and the Internal Affairs Oversight Group are being established, “she said,” as this has impacted the capacity of the Office of Accountability and the transparency of the police in discharging their responsibilities. under the law. “
Acting Mayor Kim Janey recently appointed four Bostonians to the Civilian Review Board out of nine seats.
While Sullivan said she hoped Everett would receive sufficient support to do her job, she said it was the responsibility of Acting Mayor Kim Janey and Boston City Council to honor the legal obligations set out by the ordinance that created the OPAT.
“The law requires action from both the mayor and the city council,” she said. “It is not the responsibility of [Everett] to appoint members of the Civil Review Board or the Internal Affairs Oversight Committee… At this point, it’s not about what Ms. Everett hasn’t done, it’s really about the mayor’s office and the municipal council to make the necessary appointments.
Working group member and community activist Jamarhl Crawford raised concerns at the meeting about the disconnect between the community and the OPAT.
Investigating and reforming the police is a monumental task and the police accountability office deserves some leniency, Crawford said in an interview. However, passionate action needs to be taken to effect change and there are currently too few people in the office to effect change.
Lack of public awareness of the newly formed entity is causing a rift between Bostonians and the OPAT, Crawford said.
“You can’t complain to the OPAT if you know the OPAT exists,” Crawford said, “and I would say most people in Boston don’t even know that this office even exists.”
The OPAC Commission will hold its next virtual public meeting on December 17th.