It is clear that new Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis “did not come here to conduct business as usual,” editorializes the Boston Globe. Davis has unveiled several new initiatives in recent weeks. The least impressive, says the newspaper, is a decision to shift oversight for the department’s detectives to a centralized unit as a means to address “unevenness of investigations.” Police commissioners experiment obsessively with centralization and decentralization, usually to little avail, says the Globe.
The paper calls a new emphasis on community policing more promising, as well as the introduction of the CompStat system that allows police managers to track crimes and deploy officers to hot spots. Tensions between the department’s investigative and patrol branches had limited the effect of such technology. Recruitment of qualified officers, including candidates who speak Cape Verdean or Haitian Creole, may be Davis’s biggest short-term challenge. His recruiters have exhausted the civil service list. The number of test takers for the police exam has fallen sharply. Davis’s best move would be to break with the city’s foolish tradition of not hiring experienced officers from other communities, advises the Globe.