Boston Police Misconduct Brings Few Serious Penalties

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An off-duty drunk Boston police detective named Robert Tully seriously injured a nurse in an auto crash, but every agency involved stepped in to protect him. Tully suffered no consequences, the Boston Globe reports. A Globe investigation found that the way the badge shielded Tully is often the way it works. Boston police officers accused of crimes encounter a kinder, gentler justice system than the one civilians must navigate, a system where justice takes a back seat to protecting officers. Allegations that would get other people arrested disappear into drawn-out internal affairs investigations that rarely end with criminal charges or firing, even when the department concludes officers broke the law. The newspaper found dozens of officers whose legal problems melted away.

Officers who stole, committed fraud, attacked co-workers, or drew guns on their colleagues were allowed to resign or retire without facing charges. Officers who attacked family members, threatened civilians, and drunkenly crashed cars remain on the force. Officers who were prosecuted — for stealing and laundering money from the evidence room, for lying to federal officials, for joining a shoplifting ring — avoided jail and sometimes saved valuable pensions by agreeing to quit. In the Tully incident, police did not check on blood alcohol test results, take photos, or conduct follow-up interviews. They closed the case immediately, issuing a “marked lanes” traffic citation. Boston city lawyers said he couldn’t be sued because he acted “in the scope of his employment,” although he was off duty. Even when the police department sustains allegations of law-breaking against officers, punishments are often mild. Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins said she does not have faith in the police department’s ability to investigate its own. The Globe’s findings, based on court records, interviews, and internal documents, “clearly displayed” special treatment for officers, she said.

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