Boston’s next mayor should incentivize police accountability
Reforming the Boston Police Department will require more than just “hands-on leadership,” as City Councilor Andrea Campbell suggested in an op-ed earlier this week. The key to successfully reforming the BPD is to change institutional culture, and that is best done from the bottom-up. Instead of cudgeling change into a resistant police department, a more effective approach would be to design disciplinary systems that incentivize officers to take accountability for wrongdoing and make amends with citizens and communities.
Boston’s Office of Police Accountability and Transparency, which was created this year to investigate citizen complaints against police, is a step in the right direction. But while independent oversight bodies like OPAT give communities more confidence in the integrity of police accountability systems, they do not necessarily restore trust in police departments. To restore public trust in policing, communities need to see officers taking responsibility for bad behavior and trying to repair the harm they caused.