Boston police would be required to notify an oversight agency at City Hall whenever one of its officers is accused of a crime, under new recommendations intended to bring more transparency to the Police Department’s often-opaque internal affairs process.
The report from the new Office of Police Accountability and Transparency, released Thursday, examined policies and procedures of Boston police’s internal affairs division in the fallout from Patrick M. Rose Sr., the retired patrolman and union chief. A Globe investigation published in April found that police allowed Rose to remain on the force for two decades after an internal investigation concluded that he probably sexually abused a child.
“Swift action should have been taken” in the 1990s to remove Rose from the department, Acting Mayor Janey said at a City Hall press conference. “It is shameful that it seems the actions taken were to protect their own, rather than to protect children.”
Janey ordered the review in April after vowing to “change the way that BPD internal affairs works, to make sure that this never happens again.” The report did not provide any significant new insight into why Rose was allowed to remain on the force after the 1995 abuse allegations, but it noted that police officials never recommended that Rose be fired despite the determination he probably broke the law.
In fact, there was no indication he faced any discipline other than remaining on desk duty for an undetermined amount of time before eventually returning to patrol. Instead, Rose’s internal affairs file included the notation “Try to settle prior to hearing.”
The five-page report did not delve specifically into who knew what when at Boston police regarding the Rose allegations. The question of who dropped the ball in the handling of the allegations during the 1990s remains an open one. Other than Rose, no current or former member of the nation’s oldest police force is named in the report.
City Councilor Andrea Campbell, speaking outside City Hall following Janey’s Thursday news conference, said the fact that no police officers who handled the Rose allegations were named in the report is “beyond concerning.”
“The sad part is, it’s now been months and we still know nothing,” said Campbell, who is running against Janey in a crowded and heated mayoral campaign.
Campbell said she still has unanswered questions, including who was involved in the initial investigation in the 1990s, how the allegation against Rose was determined to be credible and who made that determination, and why Rose wasn’t fired.
At the press conference, Janey said that everyone involved in Rose’s case has left the department. She suggested that the failure to discipline Rose lay with the police leadership, saying it was “clear” who ultimately decides to fire an officer.
Janey did not mention anyone by name, but in the mid-1990 the commissioner was Paul Evans, who has defended his handling of Rose’s case. In April, Evans released a statement saying he and other police officials at the time did “everything that could be done … to hold Rose accountable.”
Thursday’s report recommended adding more oversight to the internal affairs process. To do that, Janey has proposed requiring police to notify City Hall’s new police accountability office any time an officer is charged criminally.
The report represented the first work of Stephanie Everett, the inaugural executive director of the city’s new Office of Police Accountability and Transparency. The office was created amid calls for racial justice after a police officer murdered George Floyd in Minneapolis last year.
According to Everett’s report, there were no clear policies in place in 1995 to ensure a “thorough and independent response” from the department’s internal affairs. Boston police failed to take sufficient steps to discipline or terminate Rose based on internal affairs’s sustained finding of misconduct, that report said. And there was no independent oversight of internal affairs to identify those missteps.
Everett recommended that a discipline matrix be adopted for recommendations that stem from internal affairs probes. Such a matrix, according to Everett, should mirror recommendations made by a city police reform task force last year that required a police commissioner to justify a discipline decision in writing when such a decision departs from the recommendation of a Civilian Review Board.
“The purpose of this is to ensure that discipline is consistent, transparent, and appropriate,” read Everett’s report.
Another of Everett’s recommendations called for the department’s Bureau of Professional Standards to seek witness interviews within 48 hours of receiving information that an officer has been charged with sexual assault or domestic violence. In the Rose case, that took five months to happen in 1995, city officials have said.
In Rose’s case, the department filed a criminal complaint against him for sexual assault on a 12-year-old. After the complaint was dropped, police proceeded with an internal investigation that concluded that he probably committed a crime. State child welfare investigators also believed there was evidence that Rose had abused a child.
Despite those findings, Rose remained on patrol for another 21 years, had contact with vulnerable children, and rose to power in the union that represents patrol officers.
Rose retired in 2018 and was arrested in August. He remains in jail awaiting trial on 33 counts of abusing six children over the span of decades. He has pleaded not guilty and maintains his innocence, according to his attorney, William J. Keefe.
For her part, Campbell renewed her call for federal prosecutors to conduct an independent probe of the Rose matter.
“If we say transparency and accountability is key, then the acting mayor needs to take action that aligns with those values,” she said.
Boston police has been buffeted by other recent scandals. Janey fired police commissioner Dennis White last month, following a Globe report about decades-old domestic violence allegations against White, who has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.
There is also an ongoing overtime scandal connected to the Boston police evidence warehouse. At least 14 Boston police officers have been federally charged in connection with alleged overtime fraud.