Boston city councilors plan to file a proposal that would create a civilian review board with stronger oversight and investigative powers over the police department.
City Councilor Andrea Campbell’s office confirmed that she, plus Councilors Ricardo Arroyo and Julia Mejia, plan to file the proposal on Tuesday. The board would replace the Community Ombudsman Oversight Panel, which is the current civilian entity meant to provide oversight of the department. Then-Mayor Thomas Menino created that panel — known as the CO-OP — nearly 15 years ago, and Mayor Martin Walsh moved to beef it up in 2017, though the board still does little publicly and meets very rarely.
The civilian review board would have more ability to review internal affairs investigations and initiate its own probes. Specifics of the board and the proposed ordinance that would create it weren’t available Monday night.
The councilors plan to introduce the proposal on Tuesday, though the next council meeting — when it would first be introduced and sent to a committee for future hearings — isn’t for another two weeks.
This comes after a month and a half of protests following several high-profile police killings of Black people. Protesters have called for cuts in police budgets and changes to police oversight and use-of-force policies. The three councilors introducing this proposal all voted against the city’s annual budget last month, saying it didn’t include robust-enough structural change aimed at improving life for people of color in Boston.
The council does not have the power itself to create boards and commissions, though in recent years pushes from councilors to do so have resulted in agreements with the mayor to create them, as was the case with the city’s marijuana licensing board.