A majority of Boston police officers found by the department in recent years to have engaged in serious misconduct have been allowed to keep their jobs, and three-fourths were punished with suspensions of 45 days or fewer, reports the Boston Globe. A Globe review of department discipline from Jan. 1, 2002, through Sept. 22, 2005, found a system in which department officials often negotiate punishments with officers, who have union and civil service protections, to avoid a lengthy appeals process. Boston’s punishment system, rooted in past practice, is at odds with the trend nationwide of departments cracking down on problem officers.
The Globe focused on 116 cases in which the department concluded that officers violated department policies, including assaulting civilians, lying in police reports, falsifying evidence, or abusing drugs or alcohol. In 79 of those cases, punishments were negotiated with the officers. Of the 110 officers, dispatchers, and civilian personnel cited in the 116 cases, 86 were still in their jobs at the end of last year. The Globe’s review came after the announcement last month that none of the officers involved in the fatal police shooting of 21-year-old Victoria Snelgrove will receive punishment more severe than 45-day suspensions; a commander was demoted for poor planning.