Amid heightened scrutiny of law enforcement across the nation, the Boston Globe sought to assess the extent of misconduct and discipline within the Boston Police Department.
The City of Boston does not provide a comprehensive, transparent system that allows residents to keep tabs on its police. So, the Globe decided to amass public records, cross reference the data, and create its own.
Reporters requested records that include an internal investigations log, discipline, awards, case summaries, arbitration and civil service decisions, and payroll.
Now, we are unveiling an analysis of a decade’s worth of internal data and records from the nation’s oldest police force. Which officers have faced the most complaints? Which have gotten the most awards? What happened to certain complaints about misconduct? Find out here.
How to use this database
- You can search by name of an officer, as well as sort by rank/title, race/ethnicity, gender, and the number of cases associated with them.
- Filter officers by using pulldown menus and explore the records by tapping the dots.
- The “cases” tab will show you all cases filed since 2010. You can see which officers are attached to the case, the nature of the allegations, as well as the department’s own findings. Some cases will include information on discipline that was issued. Be sure to check “additional documents” to see case files.
- Use the “details” tab to learn more about each officer, including allegations of misconduct, associated cases, as well as awards they received for their work. Click to see more information on their awards, discipline, and more.
A few matters of note: The Boston police data include several holes. The records do not include punishments for all closed cases in which discipline was issued. The names of officers in still-pending cases were not released and neither were the names of officers in some completed cases.
The department has been criticized for the length of its internal investigations — one excessive use of force case has been pending since Jan. 11, 2010.
The American Civil Liberties Union recently sued the Boston Police Department over its failure to provide public records, alleging a “longstanding pattern of delay that violates” state law. A task force appointed by Mayor Martin J. Walsh has urged the police department to adopt better data and record-keeping practices “that maximize accountability, transparency, and public access.”
We aim to update and expand this database, and could use your help. Do you know more about any of these cases? Will you share details of your interaction with an officer or the BPD’s internal investigative unit? Does a case or an officer’s history appear incorrect in this database? Please, let us know.
Based in part on the records used in this database, we have learned that the department almost never believes citizens who report misconduct or violence by officers, and even when officers are found to have acted inappropriately, they often are not punished with anything harsher than an oral reprimand.
We published a first-of-its-kind analysis that shows an unequal system of justice for officers, with racial discrepancies baked into the operations of the department. Black officers are more likely to face scrutiny for alleged misconduct and to receive harsher discipline than their white counterparts. White officers are much more likely to receive medals and special citations.
We also reported that the department’s highest earners made more than $300,000, including more than $100,000 in overtime, and that several had checkered histories, including past payroll abuses and excessive force accusations.
You can find our other law enforcement investigations here.
Brendan McCarthy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Andrew Ryan can be reached at email@example.com Follow him on Twitter @globeandrewryan. Evan Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @evanmallen.