Boston top cops volunteer to wear body cameras
Eight top cops have volunteered to don body cameras if the city wins its legal battle to go ahead with its controversial pilot program today
By Antonio Planas
BOSTON — Eight top cops have volunteered to don body cameras — including the department’s superintendent-in-chief, William G. Gross — if the city wins its legal battle to go ahead with its controversial pilot program today.
Suffolk Superior Court Judge Douglas Wilkins is expected to decide today whether he supports or rejects the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association’s motion for an injunction that would halt the city’s six-month pilot that is slated to launch Monday.
The union’s legal fight began Aug. 26 after the city assigned 100 officers to wear the cameras. An agreement between the city and union to launch the pilot program had stipulated it would be voluntary, but not one officer stepped up after the deal was inked July 12.
“When I asked members of my command staff to volunteer to wear the cameras, they all stepped up,” Commissioner William B. Evans said in a statement yesterday. “I have the best department in the country and I am committed to getting this program started for the benefit of the community and my officers out there every day.”
Boston Police Department spokesman Lt. Michael McCarthy said yesterday in an email that the eight officers and supervisors on the command staff have trained to wear the cameras and “will wear the cameras contemporaneously” with the pilot. McCarthy added Gross came up with the idea and had volunteered months ago.
In a statement, BPPA President Patrick M. Rose said, “We believe that the Commissioner and his Staff have made a positive move forward with this display of leadership.”
“They are stepping up and leading by example and demonstrating that they are subjecting themselves to the same public scrutiny that they are asking their police officers to do,” said Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, which earlier this week called on BPD’s leadership to wear the cameras.
“It’s a wise political move by the commissioner,” agreed attorney Leonard Kesten, who regularly represents officers.
However, Kesten said, the decision is unlikely to sway the judge in either direction.
“I don’t see it having any influence on the judge, especially this judge,” he said. “Judge Wilkins is a terrific judge, and he’s not going to be influenced by that because it has nothing to do with the case.”
Both the city and union have agreed a body-camera program is inevitable, and the union has claimed it has nothing against the technology.
However, the union has contended the city breached its agreement to make the program strictly voluntary.
In court, the union also argued the city ill-timed the program in the midst of officers being murdered in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
A city attorney, meanwhile, accused the union of having “unclean hands” by telling its members not to volunteer.