Mayor Marty Walsh held a press conference on October 13, where he gave an update on coronavirus as well as accepted all of the final recommendations from the city’s Police Reform Task Force.
Walsh said that as of Monday in Massachusetts, there were 765 new cases of COVID-19 in the state and 13 new deaths. In Boston, there were 98 new cases as of Monday and four new deaths since last Friday.
He said that for the week ending October 5, the average number of positive tests per day was down from 73 to 69, but testing was also slightly down. He said the seven day average positive test rate remained at about 4.1 percent.
Four months ago, Walsh started the Police Reform Task Force, which was tasked with looking over the policies of the Boston Police Department (BPD) and areas of reform such as body camera use, use of force policies, and others. The Task Force is chaired by former US Attorney Wayne Budd.
Also in June, Walsh declared racism a public health crisis, and over the course of the summer, the Task Force held four listening sessions and accepted written testimony in several languages, and shared draft recommendations.
“Hundreds of residents made their voices heard,” Walsh said.
Walsh announced on October 13 that the final recommendations of the Task Force have been shared with him, which he has officially accepted. The recommendations have been translated into several languages and can be read at boston.gov/policereform.
Walsh called the recommendations “bold and comprehensive,” and explained that they include the creation of a Police Office of Accountability and Transparency that will have full subpoena power, enhance the BPD’s use of force policies, and others. The Task Force recommended that all recommendations should be implemented within a 180 day time frame.
“I will use every tool at my disposal to make this a reality,” Walsh said. “These are bold steps,” he continued. We are in a position to take these steps. These steps ensure that we will continue tp have the best and most trusted police department in America.”
Walsh thanked each of the 11 members of the Task Force, as well as the members of the BPD.
Wayne Budd said that “each member brought different perspectives and experiences to the table,” but the group was “able to reach a consensus on the issues.”
He said that “significant input from the community” was gathered and the group has “no doubt that our work will be of great value” to Walsh and the residents of Boston.
Tanisha Sullivan, President of the Boston Branch of the NAACP, said that “this work, these recommendations are the outcome of years of advocacy and activism that’s happening in this city. Because of that work, we have a very solid foundation to build on.”
Sullivan said that these recommendations “are not only innovative and bold,” but go beyond what the group thought was possible a year ago.
“This is accomplished with a deep understanding and acknowledgement to say that racism will not be tolerated,” she said.
She said that “today is just the beginning of the next chapter of the journey…”
BPD Commissioner William Gross said he accepts these recommendations as well.