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City councilor calls for diversity audit of Boston police, schools

Boston Police Department data shows that 56% of its appointed command staff are Black, indigenous or people of color, but there's a significant shift when it comes to civil service positions — just 8% of lieutenants fall into that category, along with 9% of captains and 24% of sergeants

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Boston City Counselor Julia Mejia is calling for an audit of the city's hiring, firing and promotion practices when it comes to the Boston Police Department and Boston Public Schools.

"Some of it is policy, some of it is politics but at the end of the day there is a problem here," Mejia said Friday.

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Boston Police Department data shows that 56% of its appointed command staff are Black, indigenous or people of color, but there's a significant shift when it comes to civil service positions — just 8% of lieutenants fall into that category, along with 9% of captains and 24% of sergeants.

"We can't get to diversity without true inclusion. True inclusion means we take a DEI focus in everything within police agencies across the Commonwealth," said Jeffrey Lopes, who heads up the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers, a group centered on minority officers.

He points to civil service promotional exams through the state as a reason for these promotional difficulties, specifically because of the weight they place on years of service.

"It can act as a barrier and historically seniority has been a barrier for people of color seeking advancement," Lopes said.

We reached out to Boston police for comment on this story, but they were unable to provide someone for an on-camera interview. Instead, the Department sent us some of the steps they've been taking to boost diversity.

Those efforts include hiring a new human resources director and diversity recruitment officer and putting together more inclusive recruitment classes to create a more diverse leadership pipeline.

Mejia hopes that further discussion can build on the progress that has already been made inside the department.

"The BPD is working to diversify the police force," she said, adding, "We also need to make sure we're putting in systems that create opportunities for officers of color."

A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 5 at the City Council's Committee on Government Accountability, Transparency, and Accessibility.

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