Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis set a goal Thursday of reducing overall crime in the city by 10 percent this year and praised officers in particular for how they handled the Occupy Boston protests late last year.
However, the top-ranking official’s speech to the rank and file was picketed by union members angered over contract negotiations.
In remarks to officers and civilian workers at the Boston Teachers Union hall in Dorchester, Davis noted that the incidence of serious crimes in the city has dropped 25 percent between 2006 and 2011. He said police can further reduce it by having officers work their beats outside their cruisers more often.
Last year officers completed 160,000 walking and bicycle beats in the city; Davis wants them to hit the 200,000 mark in 2012.
Other initiatives include adding a crime analyst, eight new homicide detectives, additional training, and technological improvements to help criminal investigations, he said.
Davis’s speech, which he delivered at two separate sessions Thursday, was closed to the news media. The Police Department made a transcript of his remarks available.
He also praised the department’s clearing of the Occupy Boston encampment in December, in which officers avoided violent clashes with protesters - a marked difference from other US cities.
“After Occupy Boston was closed down, I received phone calls from all over the country and some international inquiries on how we accomplished what we did,’’ Davis said, according to the transcript.
About 30 members of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association set up a picket outside the Dorchester hall. Some union members held signs that read “No Contract, No Support, No Respect - All in a day’s work.’’
Union president Thomas J. Nee said morale is low because he said members have not received adequate training, equipment, and compensation in recent years. The union has clashed with the department about ongoing contract negotiations. Davis and Nee spoke briefly outside the Teachers Union hall, and the commissioner later said the department is negotiating a new contract in good faith.
“We’re working very hard through the negotiation process to get to a point where we get a good salary package for them,’’ Davis said. “But right now, that’s an ongoing process, and during the course of those things, it can be a difficult time.’’
The union is also upset about the state eliminating its share of funding for the Quinn Bill, which provides pay increases to officers who earn post-secondary degrees.
While Boston continues to fund part of the program, the Supreme Judicial Court recently ruled against a group of Boston police officers who had argued in a lawsuit that the city is required to pay the benefits in full, regardless of the state’s contribution.Travis Andersen can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe. John R. Ellement can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org