Boston Mayor Kim Janey on Tuesday announced several police reform measures aimed at boosting police accountability and transparency, a day after addressing the case of a former Boston police officer and union chief who is charged with molesting multiple children.
Janey said she's named attorney Stephanie Everett as the leader of the new Office of Police Accountability and Transparency, a body whose creation was recommended by the city's police reform task force. The mayor announced that the office would get $1 million under her proposed budget, to be released Wednesday, while the Boston Police Department would have its overtime expenses funding cut.
"Today, Boston begins a new chapter. As mayor, I will lead a new era of police transparency and accountability. I am dedicated to ensuring safety, healing and justice for every resident in all of our neighborhoods," Janey said at a news conference from City Hall.
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Other investments include expanding the police cadet program by 50%, adding "20 new diverse officers to the police force," and reviewing allegations against police officers for policies the department has "discontinued due to disparate impacts on officers of color," Janey said.
She said she's ordered a pilot program that would temporarily re-house families whose homes have become crime scenes and another that would increase the role of mental health clinicians and reduce police officers' involvement in mental health crises.
"We must reimagine how we respond to violence in our city," Janey said.
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The announcement comes after Janey said she was baffled that Patrick Rose Sr., 66, a retired officer and the one-time president of the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association -- charged with molesting multiple children -- reportedly first faced child abuse allegations back in the mid-1990s.
On Tuesday, she said an internal affairs file on Rose, redacted so it doesn't reveal identifying information about victims, will be released by the end of the week: "The victims of these appalling crimes must be protected, but transparency cannot wait any longer."
Rose was initially charged last August when a father and his teenage daughter reported that the girl had been repeatedly molested by Rose from age 7 through 12.
Within weeks, five more people came forward to accuse Rose of molesting them as children.
The Boston Globe reported over the weekend that the Boston Police Department in 1995 filed a criminal complaint against Rose for sexual assault on a 12-year-old child.
The newspaper reported Tuesday that investigators at the state's child welfare agency, now the Department of Children and Families, believed in 1995 there was evidence that Rose had abused a child.
The criminal complaint was eventually dropped, but an internal investigation concluded that Rose likely committed a crime. He was allowed to stay on the force, and was often sent to respond to cases involving children.
Boston police have refused to release records pertaining to the 1995 case and it remains unclear what, if any, disciplinary action was taken against Rose at that time.
"It is baffling that officer Rose was allowed to remain on the force for over two decades and ultimately led the patrolmen’s union," Janey said in a statement Monday. "I was deeply disturbed to learn that there was no effort to prevent Rose from coming into contact with other minors after such serious charges were found to be credible by BPD’s own internal affairs probe of the original allegations in 1995."
According to Janey's statement, she has instructed the City's Law Department, as counsel for the Boston Police Department, to immediately review Rose's internal affairs file.
She said any information that could compromise the identities of victims of sexual assault and domestic violence would be redacted, in keeping with the law, but that there is an equally compelling obligation to ensure transparency with the public because withholding information only serves to erode the public's trust.
Janey said she has asked that the review and redaction happen as quickly as possible so that the file can be released to the public.
"Transparency and accountability are foundational values when it comes to fostering public trust, and this is especially true for law enforcement," Janey said.
"It is horrific that we are at this point today, where decades of a cover-up have happened of some unacceptable behavior from, it sounds like, multiple places within the police department," said Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu, a candidate for mayor.
"I find it hard to believe that no one in that department, given the seriousness of the allegations, the magnitude of the allegations, didn't know something," said Boston City Councilor Andrea Campbell, also a mayoral candidate.
Rose has pleaded not guilty to 33 total charges involving six alleged victims and is being held on $200,000 cash bail.
"My client maintains his innocence to all of the charges that have been brought against him and he maintains his innocence to what was alleged to have transpired back in 1995," his attorney, William J. Keefe, said.
The Boston Police Department in a statement said it was legally prohibited from commenting "on the facts and circumstances of the 1995 investigation of these horrific allegations."
Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins said in a statement she found it troubling that Boston police did not properly discipline Rose or restrict his access to children.
"The allegations from decades ago are an example of how systems can fail people," Rollins said.
Boston's police department has a history of protecting officers from accountability, particularly if they are white, like Rose, said retired deputy superintendent Willie Bradley.
"The police department's refusal to actually deal with this issue is a direct contributor to what happened," Bradley, who is Black and now a lecturer and professor at multiple area colleges, told The Boston Globe. "It would have been out there and people would have been aware of it, but they hid it."
For her part, Janey, who has pledged to bring a new era of transparency and accountability to city government, says her administration is doubling down on work to implement police reform and to stand up Boston’s Office of Police Accountability and Transparency.
OPAT will have the authority to review all internal affairs cases, in addition to holding subpoena power to compel the release of records and enhance accountability when necessary, according to Janey.
Everett, an attorney working most recently in private practice, will begin as OPAT's executive director April 27. She's also worked in government, including as the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance's chief of staff.