The Boston Police Department headquarters in Roxbury.
Lawyers want data on police discipline
Black officers have often spoken of disparities in how cops are disciplined in the Boston Police Department, but data on suspensions, firings and other sanctions has long remained out of public sight. Six months after requesting information on hiring, promotion, discipline and termination, broken down by race, Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR) in June filed a lawsuit against the department demanding release of the data.
Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers President Sgt. Eddie Crispin says that if the civil rights group receives the data, they’ll likely find patterns of bias.
“From my 20 years on the job, I look at black officers who are being punished and white officers facing the same charges, and it always looks like the black officers are being punished more harshly,” he said.
The LCR suit comes six months after the group first requested the information under the Freedom of Information Act, under which government agencies are required to share information with the public if requested.
“What we’ve heard anecdotally is that at every level of the employment process, people of color employment
process, people of color are treated differently than their white
colleagues,” said Sophia Hall, a supervising attorney with LCR.
ongoing high-profile case involves Area B3 Captain Haseeb Hosein, who
in May was put on paid leave while under investigation from the Internal
Affairs Division. Police have not disclosed for what Hosein is being
investigated, but multiple sources say he had a marked department
cruiser painted as an unmarked car without going through proper channels
prior to his suspension.
“It’s something captains do all the time,” said one officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
case stands in contrast to that of Captain Timothy Connolly, assigned
to the department’s Homeland Security unit, who in February was charged
with two counts of domestic assault stemming from a fight with his wife.
Connolly has been assigned desk duty while his assault case remains
point to apparent disparities, including the Dec. 31, 2017 case of ten
officers assigned to the predominantly white gang unit who were found to
be drinking alcohol on BPD property before one officer, Domenic
Columbo, was charged with operating under the influence after he plowed
his pickup truck into a car, seriously injuring a passenger.
Columbo has been placed on paid leave pending an investigation, the
other nine officers who were drinking — an offense that can result in
termination — were given threeday suspensions and allowed to remain in
the special unit.
that with the case of David McBride, a black officer who was written up
in 2017 after a city employee said he saw McBride exit his cruiser with
a beer bottle, which he then deposited in a trash can. McBride was
assigned to desk duty for eight months while he was under investigation.
He retired last year with the charges still pending.
said that without the data LCR has requested from the department,
outside observers will never know for sure how deep discriminatory
practices may run.
why this lawsuit is so important,” she said. “If lawyers are asking for
this information and can’t get it, nobody will know.”