Boston Police Commissioner William Evans is backing off plans to purchase high-tech software designed to comb social media for criminal activity.
On Friday, Evans released a statement saying he's instead asking his team to consider re-drafting the request for proposals.
"After reviewing the submitted proposals I felt that the technology that was presented exceeds the needs of the department. I met with Mayor Walsh and with his support we have decided not to enter into a contract at this time. Our plan from the beginning was to use this process to learn and examine the capabilities of the technology and use that information to make informed decisions," said Evans. "Moving forward, we will continue the process of inspecting what is available and ensuring that it meets the needs of the department while protecting the privacy of the public."
Evans is also looking for feedback from the public on the police department's use of technology and how it can be best used to ensure public safety. To do this, he has asked City Councilor Andrea Campbell, Chair of the Committee on Public Safety and Criminal Justice, to initiate a public process to solicit feedback on key policy issues.
Several civil-rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts had urged the city to scrap plan to spend $1.4 million on the software saying they were concerned that it would be used to target minority populations.
Boston Police have released the following documents for more information on the software.
Superintendent Fitzgeral memo to Commissioner Evans
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
Boston Police Department Request for Proposals
Verint Technologies Cover Letter