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Boston City Council demands reports on ‘militarized’ weapons, tactics in effort to ‘demilitarize’ police

Boston Police Department (Jason Lawrence/Flickr)

City Councilor Michelle Wu has filed an order requiring Mayor Martin Walsh to hand over data on how many “military-style” weapons and vehicles the Boston Police Department has — and how the force used them to handle the protests over the past week.

“We should be moving toward demilitarized law enforcement,” Wu told the Herald. “It’s a push to rethink what we are prioritizing and looking to bring about strong stable communities.”

Wu’s order draws on a section of the city’s governing charter that requires the administration to respond to the council’s specific requests for information. The order would have to be passed by the full council at Wednesday’s meeting or at a later date to take effect.

The order seeks “a comprehensive inventory of all Boston Police Department (BPD) equipment and resources that could reasonably fall under the definition of ‘militarized,’ including but not limited to armored personnel carriers and other armored vehicles, assault rifles, submachine guns, sniper rifles, flashbang grenades and grenade launchers, Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT)/Rapid Response Team (RRT) resources, and other weapons of war,” as well as how much each piece of equipment cost.

She’s also requesting training materials on “military style tactics and weapons,” after-action reports on all SWAT and RRT deployments since 2010. The order also seeks internal investigation results over the past decade, and reports on crowd-control equipment and “military-style tactics” from the recent protests. Additionally, the order seeks BPD requests for assistance in policing the protests, and documents of the requests for reimbursement from the city’s and other police departments for the demonstrations.

Wu’s also looking for all records, including demographic breakdowns, for all warrants served since 2010.

This comes as protests have continued for more than the past week over police treatment of black people. The protests follow the high-profile death of George Floyd, a black man from Minnesota, at the hands of police. Video from that killing showed an officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. That officer has been charged with murder and fired; another three officers who were also there have been fired and face related charges. The protests in Boston — with the exception of a chaotic night of looting last Sunday — have remained largely peaceful.

Activists — including several Boston city councilors — have called for widespread change, including more oversight of police departments and stricter guidelines governing the use of force. Walsh has condemned Floyd’s killing and vowed change locally, saying that details about what exactly his administration will do will come in time.


© 2020 the Boston Herald