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Boston Police Department Update on Police Reform

Since our last update on police reform posted on October 4, 2021, additional progress has been
made.

Policies:

Boston Police Department (BPD) rules (327 and 327A) regarding response to, and investigation of incidents of domestic violence were revised on November 3, 2021.  Enhancements include:

  • Strengthening investigation and reporting requirements for BPD employees and other law enforcement personnel who have been involved in a domestic violence. 
    • Immediate placement of BPD personnel alleged to have been involved as the suspect in incidents of domestic violence that constitute a criminal violation of M.G.L. 209A on administrative leave while the investigation is underway. 
    • Notification to OPAT and POST if a sworn BPD member has been charged with violating MGL c. 265. Section 13a-29.
    • Notification to the executive with immediate oversight over a law enforcement executive and the appropriate county prosecutor’s office if a law enforcement executive was involved in a domestic violence or sexual assault incident.  This would include a BPD Commissioner as well as any law enforcement executive (Police Chief, Commissioner, Sheriff) involved in an incident within the City of Boston.
    • Notification to other jurisdictions if one of their law enforcement officers was involved in an incident in Boston.
  • Emphasis on victim centered investigations protecting privacy and confidentiality while connecting them to services and supports.
  • Including resources for victims at the Family Justice Center as well as referring them to the City of Boston’s Domestic Leave Policy for employees.
  • Highlighting to BPD employees the City of Boston Zero Tolerance for Violence Policy.
  • Updating procedures related to specific roles and responsibilities of Operations Division call-takers, dispatchers and supervisors; responding officers; Patrol Supervisors; Duty Supervisors; Family Justice Division Investigators and Supervisors; District Detectives; Civilian Advocates; the Bureau of Professional Standards; and employees involved in domestic violence and/ or sexual assault incidents.

BPD’s Search Warrant rule was revised on November 3, 2021 to codify procedural changes that have been made to comply with the police reform bill and to provide additional guidelines for no-knock and high-risk warrants.  In addition to revising the rule, two new forms were created to provide additional guidance and documentation regarding search warrant application and execution.  These forms also assist with transparency and accountability.  

The BPD rarely, if at all, utilizes no-knock warrants.  In the rare instance when they are to be used, significant preparation and restrictions are in place, including the SWAT team serving all high-risk warrants (including no-knocks) -- guaranteeing an obvious police presence with loud and intentional notification to occupants before entry.  Other changes to the rule include:

  • All high-risk warrants (including no-knock) need to be are approved by the Bureau of Investigative Commander or his/her designee, to provide maximum level of scrutiny.
  • The affidavit supporting the request for the warrant includes attestation that the law enforcement officer filling the affidavit has no reason to believe that minor children or adults over the age of 65 are in the home, unless there is credible risk of imminent harm to the minor child or adult over the age of 65 in the home.
  • No-knock warrants shall only be authorized by a judge. 

On January 12, 2022, BPD issued a new rule on U and T VisasThis rule codified the policies and practices that were already in place, whereby the Bureau of Investigative Services tracks, reviews and responds to requests for U and T visa certifications in an effort to assist immigrant victims of crime.  Much of the language and format in this rule was based on the Sample Certification Policy, which is part of "A Guide for Certifiers: MGL 258F Certification for Victims of Violent Crime and Human Trafficking," prepared by members of the U and T Visa Working Group of the Immigration Coalition of Massachusetts Law Reform Institute.   

OPAT:

The Boston Police Academy and the Bureau of Professional Standards provided training to eight OPAT staff and board members on November 29 and 30, 2021.  These eight hours of training included Constitutional Law, Use of Force/ Defensive Tactics, Use of Force/ Range 3000, and an overview of the Internal Affairs Division investigation processes.  Training for the newly appointed CRB and IAOP members is scheduled for February 28 and March 1, 2022.

BPD continues to work with OPAT to set up procedures to ensure that BPD is providing the information and documents that OPAT needs. 

POST Commission:

BPD continues to do the work required to comply with Massachusetts Peace Officer Training and Standards (POST) Commission certification standards for officers and the department overall.

  1. BPD has been reporting all citizen complaints to POST within 48 hours as mandated.
  2. Discipline histories (check term) for all current veteran officers were provided to POST as required. 
  3. BPD provided the necessary attestation and background check forms to POST to ensure that 87 recruits were certified as police officers upon graduation on January 7, 2022.
  4. BPD is currently processing the next recruit class to begin in April.  Additional POST attestation and background check forms will be required, as well as a POST survey / questionnaire to be completed by recruits prior to starting the Police Academy. 
  5. Veteran officers are completing 46 hours of in-service training that includes 24 hours of POST/ MPTC training in order to meet certification requirements by July 1 deadline.  Note, all officers are required to complete these training hours, but only the officers with last names starting with A - H will be reviewed for certification by POST this year.  Veteran officers are reviewed for certification every three years, on a rolling basis by last name.  
Annual Reporting:

The BPD completed various annual reporting requirements in December 2021 and January 2022; including:

  • Annual Trust Act report submitted to the City Clerk per the Ordinance.  In 2021, BPD received two civil immigration detainer requests from ICE, neither were enforced. 
  • Gang Database Rule annual report shared with the Mayor and City Councilors.  This new reporting process was established when the rule was revised in June 2020.  In 2021, 59 individuals were added to the database, 609 were removed per revised criteria and review process.
  • In compliance with M.G.L. c. 258F, BPD reported U and T visa information to the MA Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.  56 individuals requested nonimmigrant status certification from the BPD for Boston cases.  40 certification forms were completed and signed, 4 were denied, and the rest are pending.
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