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The police reform blues

Social justice advocates held a rally in front of the State House on Nov. 19.
Social justice advocates held a rally in front of the State House on Nov. 19.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Police union needs to start holding its membership accountable

Larry Calderone, president of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, complains that his union has been “frozen out” of discussions on police reform (“A failure to communicate,” Metro, Nov. 20).

It’s wrong to suggest that the BPPA has had limited say in police reform discussions. From prominent interviews to full-page ads in newspapers, the BPPA has never had a problem getting its message out. The problem is that the messaging lacks a commitment to oversight and accountability.

The BPPA has consistently failed to acknowledge or address the countless allegations and findings of misconduct among police officers, including its own members.


As columnist Kevin Cullen points out, the BPPA has sought to improve its public perception by toning down the offensive, bigoted, and divisive material once found in its newsletters. However, to play a constructive role in police reform, the BPPA should aim higher than making its communications less racist. It must stop using its power, including its Twitter account, to intimidate and harass civilians and community groups. It must also start holding its membership accountable.

Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal

Executive director

Lawyers for Civil Rights


Support for those who protect us is steadfast, but it’s not blind

Re Kevin Cullen’s column “A failure to communicate”: Cullen and Larry Calderone, president of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, are selling us a false narrative.

First, was the BPPA shut out of the police reform discussion, or did the union opt not to participate?

Second, experience shows that the BPPA’s response to change has been: We’ll have to bargain for that. For example, body cameras — why on earth should police have to be paid more to wear them?

Third, Calderone argues that “you wouldn’t decertify a lawyer or doctor by a panel made up of community activists.’' Doctors and lawyers are not backed by a union whose sole purpose is to look out for its members’ interests. Also, doctors and lawyers are not performing a taxpayer-funded public safety function.


I fully support the men and women in public safety who put their lives on the line for us. I do not support them blindly.

It’s time for meaningful change.

Chris McKeown


Show some leadership, lawmakers

As a voter, I have never been more concerned, and disgusted, by the self-serving disregard for their jobs exhibited by politicians who seemingly, and selfishly, would put their own recent and future electoral success ahead of focusing on solutions to the many urgent issues we face.

Do you think I’m talking about the Republican response to the presidential election? Yes, of course, but today I’m also heartbroken to see that this attitude now seems to pervade our own State House, where legislators, beyond all reason, are apparently ready to just move on from common-sense police reform simply because those reforms “have lost all political momentum” (“Push for police reform stalls,” Page A1, Nov. 20).

Can’t handle a complicated issue with multiple and competing sets of values? Please.

Show some leadership. Do your job.

John Weiss