Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Letter Requesting More Police to Mayor, City Council

June 12, 2006

Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the Boston City Council

One City Hall Plaza

Boston, MA 02201

Dear Honorable Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Esteemed Members of the Boston City Council:

We write this letter to call on the Mayor and the City Council to provide for a sizeable increase in the Boston Police Department’s patrol force, as a significant tool in combating violence, particularly youth violence, in the City of Boston.

Maintaining the status quo in the level of police staff, or making negligible increases in staffing, means that the City will likely continue to experience the alarming increase in the level of violence already seen in 2006, on top of steep increases in 2005.

The City needs more police officers on the streets. Lt. Governor Kerry Healy recently stated on an NECN television interview that the only way to solve the problem of violence in Boston is by adding more officers. City Council President Michael Flaherty commented, shortly after being re-elected president of the council in January 2006, that he would work towards adding 350 more officers this year. Outgoing Police Commissioner Kathleen O’Toole called for an increase of at least 200 more officers to bring staffing levels up to past levels. With the FY06 attrition rate of 88 officers, this virtually wipes out any proposed gains in hiring for FY07, should that attrition rate be repeated.

The laws of the City of Boston, Chapter 11, Section 1.6 of the City ordinances adopted, or approved, on January 31, 1979, state that as of July 1, 1980 the number of police officers shall, at no time, be less than two thousand five hundred (2,500). With a uniformed police staff as of May 2006 of 2,092 and a budgeted force of 2,100 for FY07, the Boston Police Department’s uniformed officers are understaffed by at least 400 officers. Clearly, the number of uniformed officers continues to lag behind what is minimally required by Law.

We find this situation inconsistent with the immediate needs of the City and we ask that the Mayor and the City Council make the necessary adjustments to the proposed City budget for FY07 to demonstrate a legitimate plan for complying with the law and ensuring the safety of the citizens of Boston. Without a plan in place to significantly increase the number of police officers in the coming fiscal year and in subsequent years with a goal of reaching the City’s minimum officer staffing ordinance, a growing number of citizen supporters are prepared to seek enforcement of the City ordinance through the judicial process and/or state enforcement of municipal law.

We recognize that there is “no such thing as a free lunch” and that funding must be found to cover the cost of an increased police force, but, as Commissioner O’Toole has stated “You can’t put a price on safety”. We believe that if the City looks in the right places and prioritizes properly the funds can be found. For example:

- Increased use of the PILOT program should be undertaken. Councilor Murphy has suggested charging a student use fee that could raise more than $10 million annually.

- City real estate policy such as giving away property for free or for less than market value should be reviewed including the land to the Islamic Society of Boston, City Hall Plaza, Heyward Place, the Forsyth Institute, the sidewalks around Fenway Park, etc. These giveaways have resulted in the loss of millions of dollars.

- Attention should be paid to the proposed downtown 1000 foot skyscraper. Although the City currently owns the property, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) is advertising it, clearly indicating that the BRA plans to take the property by eminent domain. The City needs to insure that the taxpayers get proper value for their assets.

- Rent should be charged to the BRA for their use of the 9th floor of City Hall, and taxes levied on the $500M+ in holdings that they manage.

- Tax breaks for private development projects, such as the $14 million deal to Columbus Center, should be reviewed and curtailed.

We are confident that by reviewing past practices and cutting off perks to special interests as the city goes forward, funding can be found to pay for the safety of the city’s residents.

We look forward to your addressing this issue in the current City Budget, and encourage an open dialogue on how we can achieve the goal of more police officers on the streets.

However, if the City does not provide a significant increase in the amount of police officers for fiscal year 2007 and beyond, we will ask the Attorney General to pursue enforcement of Chapter 11, Section 1.6, and failing that, we will seek judicial redress.


Barry Mullen

55 St. Marks Road

Dorchester, MA 02124


Kevin Barry, Dorchester

Michael Barrett, Dorchester

Kevin McCrea, South End

Dr. Clara Lora, South End

CC: Attorney General Thomas Reilly

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