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Boston Adopts Broad Police Reform Package

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh embraced of proposed police reforms, vowing to push through sweeping recommendations of a task force that spent almost four months examining the operations and culture of the nation’s oldest police department, the Boston Globe reports. The city will create an independent police watchdog office with full investigative and subpoena powers, expand the police department’s body-worn camera program and enhance use-of-force policies, Walsh said. The department will create a diversity and inclusion unit, and officials will seek to amend civil service rules to allow for a hiring preference for Boston high school graduates, a move Walsh said would open a recruitment pipeline to a diverse group of residents. The department’s racial makeup has become more white and doesn’t resemble the city’s population.

From how the department collects data to how officers interact with the public, adoption of the task force recommendations represents a major recalibration of department practices and policies. “These are bold steps,” Walsh said. “I accept and endorse each of these principles.” Police Commissioner William Gross agrees with the changes. “The discussions about systemic racism, injustices, inequality — these discussions have to be had,” Gross said. “As law enforcement we serve the people, it’s not the other way around.” Several of the proposed reforms may require buy-in from police unions as well as an influx of money to the new independent oversight office.