Open Letter to the Community on Diversity in the Police Department

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Dear Friends,

The Boston Police Department has a great number of professional, dedicated officers.  I’m proud of the work they do every day to keep you safe. 

My priority has always been to have the Department’s diverse workforce reflect the best in the community.  Throughout my more than six years as Police Commissioner I’ve worked hard to accomplish that goal, despite significant challenges from a civil service process that does not truly measure the qualities necessary for supervisory promotions.  It is no secret; there are few minority candidates at the top of the civil service lists- and until now, little was being done about it.

Recently, there has been quite a bit of misinformation about the Department’s commitment to diversity.  I want to take this opportunity to set the record straight.

First, the financial commitment;   under Mayor Menino’s leadership, the city has set aside 2.2 million dollars to revamp the civil service exam process.  Creating a fair and balanced testing process which would give minority officers an equal opportunity at promotion is scheduled to be rolled out in 2014.

Secondly, the Department’s uniformed members are more than 34* percent minority.  Over the years, my administration has done extensive recruitment outreach in the community.  The success of this effort shows. More than 2,500 participants took the June 2013 test over 1,300 were minority residents.

While the current civil service process limits my ability to promote minority officers to civil service ranks, I have worked hard to provide other opportunities. My command staff is the most diverse in BPD history; with 42 percent people of color. I appointed the first Hispanic Captain, Alfredo Andres who I also promoted to Deputy Superintendent in charge of Labor Relations.  Under my leadership, women have also taken on significant leadership roles in the Department.  Deputy Superintendent Kelly Nee is in charge of the Bureau of Investigative Services, Homicide Unit.  Deputy Superintendent, Lisa Holmes leads the Bureau of Professional Standards, Internal Affairs Unit and Deputy Superintendent Nora Baston commands the Safe Street Teams- a successful city wide walking beat program.

Another area, where I do have discretion – transfers to the Department’s specialized units. In my six years as Commissioner, I have continued to appoint qualified minority and women officers to the elite units, which include: drug control, youth violence strike force, homicide and K-9.

You may be wondering how this all affects you.  I am a strong proponent of community policing.  I believe working in partnership with the community helps to make the city safer.  We have proven that to be true, with serious crime down 28 % in six years.  With your help we have made Boston one of the safest big cities in the country.    

Critics have attempted to misrepresent these facts and twist the truth.  I have always tried to be transparent and open in all that we do.  To that end, it is important you hear about what I’ve done and what I am still working to achieve. 

MAMLEO, the Mass Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers and its supporters need to be part of the solution not part of the problem.  Melvin Miller the publisher of the Bay State Banner made that clear in a recent editorial…. Miller said  ...”MAMLEO should assume responsibility for training its members to perform better on …qualifying tests... And the editorial went on to say “it is unconscionable disregard for the welfare of the black community to instigate hostility  ...toward the police.”

I couldn’t agree more;  MAMLEO hasn’t proposed legislation or undertaken any valuable initiatives to help its own members or the community.  I urge you to contact MAMLEO and let the organization know you don’t support its divisive efforts to undermine the progress that has been made and demand the leadership – lead and become part of the solution.

I will continue to work to improve the Department and to earn your trust every day.  Please join me on Twitter on Thursday, September 12th to continue the discussion and the search for solutions.

Thank you for taking the time to read this very important message.


Ed Davis

Boston Police Commissioner

*Correction: Due to a typographical error, this number was originally reported as 44% and should have been 34%.