Friday, June 12, 2020 - Building on a commitment
to make Boston a national leader in battling racism, Mayor Martin J. Walsh
today announced immediate actions to address the impact racism has on the
health and well-being of residents in the city, including declaring
racism an emergency and a public health crisis in the City of Boston.
"In Boston, we embrace the opportunity this
moment and this movement offers us," said Mayor Walsh. "We stand with
our Black community and communities of color to lead the change toward a more
just and equitable society. With these actions, we will increase equity in
public safety and public health, and launch a conversation that can produce
lasting, systemic change to eliminate all the ways that racism and inequality
harm our residents."
Following President Obama's call to mayors to
pursue policing reforms, Mayor Walsh has signed the "Mayor's Pledge" issued
by the Obama Foundation's My Brother's Keeper Alliance. When President Obama
started My Brother's Keeper in 2014, Mayor Walsh made a commitment to work to
address the persistent opportunity gaps faced by youth in Boston.
The "Mayor's Pledge" commits the City
of Boston to the following actions:
police use of force policies
communities by including a diverse range of input, experiences, and
review findings to the community and seek feedback
police use of force policies
In addition, Mayor Walsh has declared his
support for the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus' "10
Point Plan" which outlines a series of reforms at the federal, state
and municipal levels.
Mayor Walsh has created a new Task Force to
ensure that these commitments translate to immediate action, made up of an
independent group of community members and chaired by former U.S. Attorney for
the District of Massachusetts Wayne Budd.
"I along with the members of the Task Force
recognize the importance of the responsibility the Mayor has asked us to
undertake. This comes at a very difficult time in our country, which makes the
work that we are about to undertake even more important," said former U.S.
Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Wayne Budd. "You can be assured
that we will give the task at hand the first attention and our best efforts,
all to the end of assuring the very best the Boston Police Department has to
offer and its responsibility of protecting and serving all people of
Mayor Walsh has issued several charges for the
Task Force to start their work with, including reviewing Boston Police's use of
force policies, recommending rigorous implicit bias training for police
officers, improving the current Body Worn Camera program at Boston Police and
strengthening Boston's existing police review board, known as the Community
Ombudsman Oversight Panel or Co-op Board.
Mayor Walsh has previously committed his full
support of body cameras being worn by officers during all shifts, including
overtime, and Boston Police are actively working toward that goal. In addition,
Mayor Walsh today announced that moving forward the Boston Police Department
will no longer use the hair test for evidence of drug use in officers or
recruits, a decision that's been made in partnership with the police
On June 11, 2020, Boston Police Commissioner
William Gross announced he completed a review of Boston Police's policies
against the recommended use of force policies outlined in the "8
Can't Wait" effort, resulting in clarified
rules and the implementation of several reforms.
"At the Boston Police Department, we are
committed to ensuring accountability and transparency, and building trust with
our community," said Commissioner William Gross. "These actions that
we are taking demonstrate that we are in lockstep with the community who are
calling on us to review and reform our policies, and take our community
policing model that has positive engagement at its core to the next
Over the past six years, the crime rate in
Boston is down by nearly 30%, arrests are down 33%, and police officers have
taken nearly 5,000 guns off the streets. Additionally, from 2013 to 2019,
complaints of improper behavior fell by 40% and complaints of excessive force
dropped by over 50%.
The Task Force will produce recommendations in
60 days. Aligned with President Obama's "Mayor's Pledge," the
community will have two weeks to review recommendations and provide feedback to
the City of Boston and Mayor Walsh will announce reforms to be implemented as a
result of the Task Force and the community's input within 90 days of the Task
Force beginning their work.
In addition to former U.S. Attorney for the
District of Massachusetts Budd, community members named to the Boston Police
Reform Task Force include:
Cartwright, Attorney in Charge, Roxbury Public Defender's Office
Feaster, Jr., Chairman of the Board, Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts
Sullivan, President, NAACP Boston Branch
Howell, President, DRIVE Boston Community Resources Inc. & Political
Dennis White, Chief of Staff, Boston Police Department
Fleur, former MA State Representative, Boston
Brown, Associate Pastor, Historic Twelfth Baptist Church, Roxbury
from the City Council President
As part of Mayor Walsh's proposed Fiscal Year
2021 (FY21) budget that will be resubmitted on June 15, 2020, Mayor Walsh will
reallocate 20% or $12 million of the Boston Police Department's overtime budget
to make a significant investment in equity and inclusion across the City. These
for the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) to begin implementation of
the eight strategies outlined in Boston's declaration of racism as a
public health crisis
to support trauma teams and counseling services at the Boston Public
in new funding for community based programs and supports through City
departments, such as violence intervention grants, youth programming,
language and food access, immigrant advancement, the Age Strong Commission
and the Human Rights Commission.
for additional BEST Clinicians and mental health supports at the Boston
to support economic development initiatives to support minority and women
owned businesses and;
to provide additional housing supports and youth homelessness
Accompanying Mayor Walsh's declaration of racism
as an emergency and a public health crisis are eight strategies that are
focused on addressing the impact that racism has on the lives of residents and
their overall health. This work will be led by BPHC in partnership with
all city departments and supported by redirecting $3 million of Boston Police
Overtime funding in FY21 Budget resubmission.
policy solutions to dismantle systemic racism and barriers to public health
by evaluating current policies and using data to drive change.
"Boston Health Equity Now" plan that includes clear objectives
and measurable goals to address the root causes of the inequities that
cause disparities in health outcomes.
historically marginalized communities to identify problems, solutions and
support a community driven response.
public reporting of race and ethnicity data that documents health
inequities in Boston by working with hospitals and the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts to access this critical information.
to better understand the interconnectedness of societal, environmental and
behavioral factors that contribute to the impact of racism and access to
jobs, food, housing, transit and education.
access to prevention and treatment that is culturally and linguistically
services and programs to address the negative impact these inequities have
had on specific populations.
the state and federal level for policies and funding opportunities that
directly combat systemic racism.
BPHC will release a plan within the next 120
days with specific actions related to the Boston Health Equity Now plan. In
addition, BPHC will release a yearly report on measures of progress and
challenges in addressing these systemic barriers starting in 2021.
"Racism is a driving force that shapes
access to the social determinants of health and is a barrier to health equity
for all Bostonians," said Marty Martinez, Chief of Health & Human
Services. "This declaration will bring this work into greater focus with real,
intentional efforts to get to the root causes and see measurable
In May 2020, Mayor Walsh created a new COVID-19
Health Inequities Task Force to provide guidance to the City of Boston on
addressing current inequities in data analysis, testing sites, and health care
services for Blacks, Latinos, Asians and immigrants. With the support of the
Task Force, the City has strengthened its focus on the inequities that COVID-19
has exposed and helped to increase resources like the number of testing sites
and availability of testing in communities most impacted by the virus.
Additional information and updates on this work
will be posted publicly on boston.gov/endingracism.
Information on the City of Boston's response to COVID-19 and recovery efforts
can be found at boston.gov/coronavirus
Residents can text BOSCOVID to 888-777 to receive text alerts on