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Suffolk DA Rollins releases watch list of 136 area officers accused of misconduct

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins addressed the media on June 1 following a night of local demonstrations in the memory of George Floyd.
Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins addressed the media on June 1 following a night of local demonstrations in the memory of George Floyd.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins released a list of 136 police officers on Friday night that her office said have been accused of lying, corruption, or misconduct, and whose credibility may be undermined in court.

The database, called the Law Enforcement Automatic Discovery, or LEAD, database, includes current and former officers from the Massachusetts State Police, Boston Police, and Transit Police, as well as Chelsea and Revere. There is one IRS officer and one Special Police Officer.

The list is a revision and expansion of an existing database of officers with credibility issues maintained by previous District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, which had fewer than 20 names.

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“The LEAD database will help us ensure that the legal process works and people charged with crimes by our office receive all of the information they are entitled to in order to properly defend themselves,” Rollins said in a statement released Friday night.

“If testimony provided by prosecution witnesses is suspect, then the criminal legal system itself is suspect. All of us in law enforcement must be beyond reproach, because what we do impacts matters of life, death, and freedom for the general public.”

Under the 1963 Supreme Court decision in Brady v. Maryland, prosecutors must turn over evidence favorable to a defendant, including material that may undermine the credibility of a prosecution witness, such as a police officer.

Many prosecutors' offices keep lists of officers found to have engaged in misconduct in case they are needed at trial.

Matthew Brelis, a spokesman for Rollins, said her office would make decisions on whether to call officers or consider their evidence on a case-by-case basis.

Rollins’s office is working with defense attorneys to determine whether officers in the new LEAD database have been testifying without anyone being aware of their issues.

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The database will be updated regularly, Brelis said. Officers can be added for several reasons: an investigation or prosecution for criminal conduct in any jurisdiction; an investigation in any jurisdiction into discriminatory or defamatory actions targeting a protected category or class; an investigation in any jurisdiction, including by a law enforcement agency’s internal affairs or anti-corruption unit, that casts doubt upon their truthfulness or integrity; or a finding by a judge, review board, or oversight entity that an officer is not credible.

Brelis was not able to provide information Friday night about how the database was compiled. In many cases, the district attorney cited Boston Globe articles and information requests as the basis for officers' inclusion. Of the 136 names in the database, 126 were added on Friday.

Brelis said it was not clear how complete the database is, but said Rollins believes “the overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers and employees in Suffolk County are dedicated and compassionate professionals who provide exemplary service to the communities they serve.”

The database contains 70 State Police troopers, 54 Boston police officers, 5 Transit police officers, 3 Revere police officers, and 2 Chelsea police officers.

A Boston Police spokesman was not able to immediately comment because the database was released at 9 p.m. Friday during a large protest downtown.

A spokesperson for the city of Boston was also not able to immediately comment. Spokespeople for the other police departments were not immediately able to be reached.

Rollins, who took office in January 2019 after running on a platform of criminal justice reform, has clashed repeatedly with police and other state law enforcement officials.

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She has instructed prosecutors in her office not to prosecute certain low-level crimes, decried racial disparities in the criminal justice system, and called for greater scrutiny and oversight of police.

Her release of the LEAD database comes amid a national reckoning on policing and racial justice, sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, and as the Boston Police Reform Task Force prepares a final report on on ways to build better accountability and transparency in the department.

Rollins previously resisted releasing the database. The Globe filed two public records requests, one last fall and another in June, requesting the list, but her office refused until the state’s Supervisor of Records ordered her office to respond.

Legal advocates said the release of the database was an important step towards ensuring defendants' rights are protected.

“Police officers are paid to be observers, and then to testify truthfully as witnesses in prosecutions," said Randy Gioia, Deputy Chief Counsel for the Public Defender Division of CPCS. “That’s what they’re required to do, and when they’re dishonest they undermine the core of our criminal justice system and it taints the integrity of the good police officers, the honest ones.”

Gioia said that prosecutors should not call officers with credibility problems to testify in the first place.

“There has to be a bright line rule,” he said.

Explore the database of officers here:

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Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @evanmallen. Milton J. Valencia can be reached at milton.valencia@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia. Andrew Ryan can be reached at andrew.ryan@globe.com Follow him on Twitter @globeandrewryan.