Civil rights groups applaud Boston Police Department decision on body cameras and announce release of model policy

September 17, 2015 9:15 am

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BOSTON — The Boston Police Camera Action Team (BPCAT), NAACP Boston Branch, and American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts applaud the announcement by Boston Police Commissioner William Evans that body-worn cameras are coming to Boston, and congratulate the residents and community groups whose calls for reform paved the way for that announcement.

These civil rights groups are now releasing a model body-worn-camera policy. Designed to ensure privacy and effectiveness, the policy has been developed with residents and community groups in Boston. A copy of the policy is available here:

“This week’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 move with speed to plan for the full implementation of body-worn cameras within its 2017 budget. The time is now!”

“If combined with a policy that follows three core principles–accountability, privacy and transparency–body cameras can deter misbehavior on both sides of the badge,” said Matthew Segal, legal director of the ACLU of Massachusetts.

“Body cameras are one part of a larger effort to bring transparency, community oversight and accountability to policing in Boston,” said Daunasia Yancey, founder of Black Lives Matter in Boston. “Racial disparities in policing are a serious problem in Boston, and there is no single cure.”

“I am delighted at Commissioner Evans’ announcement reversing his stance on this issue. I look forward to his review of both the ACLU’s model policy and BPCAT’s revised policy before the City Council, instead of recreating the wheel with his legal staff and the police union,” said Segun Idowu, co-founder of BPCAT. “Doing so will advance a vitally important and mutual goal: improving accountability and safety in the City of Boston through the mandatory use of police body cameras guided by sensible, community-oriented policy.”

A recent report by independent researchers finds that the BPD has subjected Black and Latino people and neighborhoods to disparate treatment that cannot be justified by crime levels.

“Body cameras and other meaningful reforms are vitally important for improving police practices and police-community relations, both in Boston and across Massachusetts,” said Rahsaan Hall, director of the Racial Justice Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts. “Body cameras are not a panacea, because nothing is. For that reason, we have consistently called on the BPD to adopt not only body cameras but also other reforms, including improved training, regular publication of data, and police-civilian encounter receipts. Now that the BPD has pledged to implement many of these reforms, we will work with our allies in affected communities to hold the BPD to that pledge.”

“Civilians can and should play a key role in ensuring police accountability,” said Segal. “That is why, in Glik v. Cunniffe, the ACLU of Massachusetts fought for and won the First Amendment right to record police officers who are doing their jobs in public. The ACLU stands behind the people of Boston who choose to exercise that right.”

“The ACLU applauds everyone in Boston whose work made the BPD body-camera pilot program possible. We also stand behind those working to bring police body-worn cameras to other Massachusetts communities,” said Hall.

For more information about the ACLU of Massachusetts, go to:

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