This week, Commissioner William B. Evans announced the City of Boston’s intention to initiate a body-worn camera pilot program that will equip a segment of Boston’s police officers with this technology. This comes on the heels of the Boston NAACP and many other civil rights and social justice organizations appealing to Mayor Walsh, the Commissioner and city officials to adopt the use of “bodycams” in the wake of police-involved shootings of unarmed Black men all over the country. “There is a heightened level of transparency required for policing in 2015,” said Supreme Richardson, 3rd Vice President of the Boston NAACP. “The blinders have been removed, and now Americans realize that not all cops are protecting and serving, and too many are simply breaking the law.” Recently, the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers (MAMLEO) expressed their support for bodycameras and other police departments in the Commonwealth are taking steps to adopt them.
The NAACP applauds the leadership of Commissioner Evans and Mayor Walsh, as we have been urging the City of Boston to lead on this issue. “Today’s announcement signals a step in the right direction toward transparent, reliable and accountable policing in Boston,” said Michael Curry, Boston NAACP President. “We urge the Administration to now move with speed to plan for the full implementation of body-worn cameras within its 2017 budget. The time is now!” The NAACP, locally and nationally, has called on the nation to embrace sweeping police reforms to (1) end discriminatory stop & frisk practices and over-militarization of departments, (2) institute racial sensitivity training and ensure the recruitment and promotion of officers of color, (3) transition police-involved investigations from district attorneys to special prosecutors, (4) institute civilian review boards with subpoena power and full authority to review cases, (5) track police officers accused or found guilty of misconduct, and ensure bad cops are removed from all law enforcement agencies, and (6) pass anti-racial profiling laws to guarantee future Constitutional violations will be identified and addressed. “So, bodycameras are not the panacea, but just a part of broader reforms,” said Curry.
The Boston NAACP also supports ACLU of Massachusetts’ work with others to present a model body-worn camera policy. “We fully understand that such a policy requires the balancing of a host of constitutional and public policy considerations, such as privacy rights, storage and cost,” said Ashley Brown, Political Action Director for the Boston NAACP. “However, this conversation must take place with community input to ensure it provides the maximum benefit for law enforcement and citizens when the facts are in question.”