Re “Police shoot more often, cite a rise in threats” (Page A1, Jan. 5): While the Boston Police Department is rightfully proud of its continued successes in driving down crime, the Hub should adopt a series of reforms designed to identify problem officers, improve training, and protect the city’s bottom line.
The Boston Police Department was ahead of its time in 1992 when it launched an early intervention system to flag officers with multiple complaints from civilians. However, as Commonwealth magazine reported last year, the system has since broken down, leading to a spike in complaints and settlement costs.
In addition to rebuilding the early intervention system, Boston should examine lawsuit data to identify patterns involving officers, units, and practices and craft interventions aimed at remedying the underlying problems. Furthermore, the department should pilot a program where officers wear cameras on their uniforms, as New York City is set to do in 2014. Cities such as Rialto, Calif., that have adopted so-called body cameras have witnessed remarkable results, with complaints plunging nearly 90 percent and officers much less likely to use force on civilians.
By taking these steps, Boston would not only improve police-community relations, but it would provide a model for the 350 other cities and towns in Massachusetts on how to be tough on crime by being smart on crime.
The author is a lawyer and former staff attorney for the New York Civil Liberties Union.