The ACLU of Massachusetts and other civil rights groups today will submit a brief in the dispute between the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association and the City, which gets a hearing this afternoon, Tuesday, September 6, 2016, at 2pm, in Suffolk Superior Court. The Boston Police Department further postponed the launch of its body-camera pilot program, most recently scheduled to begin on September 1, after the police union filed a lawsuit on August 26 to stop it.
"It is alarming and disappointing that a police organization would sue to stop a body-camera pilot program that has been designed to protect both police officers and the people of Boston," said Matthew Segal, ACLU of Massachusetts legal director. "It is especially troubling that this lawsuit comes just a few weeks after the police union demanded long guns and body armor, and just weeks after the public learned that zero officers volunteered for either the body-camera pilot or the City's mediation program for resolving complaints that involve police. It is for the court to decide whether this lawsuit should prevail, but it is for the people to decide how long this resistance to basic accountability can be tolerated."
"Nowhere in its complaint does the police union mention the risk that civilians, especially those in communities of color, will be harmed if this lawsuit succeeds in blocking the Boston body-camera pilot program," said Rahsaan Hall, director of the ACLU of Massachusetts Racial Justice program. "We hope that the body-camera pilot gets back on track and moves quickly to full implementation."
The ACLU of Massachusetts supports the use of police body-worn cameras when used with proper policies to ensure community input, privacy rights, and accountability for how officers use them. Working with community leaders and other civil rights groups, including the Boston Branch of the NAACP and the Boston Police Camera Action Team, the ACLU of Massachusetts developed a "do it right" model policy for body-worn cameras. The groups shared this model policy in June with 40 police departments across the state, in hopes of spurring body-camera adoption by police and providing assistance.
"The ACLU of Massachusetts supports and appreciates efforts to bring police body-worn cameras to Boston. Most comparable U.S. cities have moved faster to do this than Boston, but Boston still has a chance to set a good example for other communities in Massachusetts. We need to do this, we need do it right, and we need to do it right now," said Carol Rose, ACLU of Massachusetts executive director.