Boston Police create a double standard to protect drunk-driving officers from public accountability

The Boston Police Department is refusing to release the names of at least five Boston police officers who have been arrested for drunk driving. Although this information should be available under the Massachusetts public records statute, and other police departments provided the names of their officers, the Boston Police Department is withholding the names of its officers who were discovered driving drunk. This improperly protects Boston police officers from public scrutiny.

Consider other jobs that rely on operating a vehicle, such as driving a truck, a school bus, or a taxicab. If any of these drivers are arrested for operating under the influence, the police department would release the information to the public. The drivers would likely be prohibited from driving until the criminal case was over as well.

When civilians are arrested, their names routinely appear in the newspapers and on the internet. In some cases, booking photos are published. Even when a person’s case is dismissed, or when it turns out they were arrested without probable cause, the arrest information remains publically available.

Yet, in Boston when police officers drive drunk, the police department protects them. The public does not know their names or if they are being held accountable for their actions. The Boston Police Department admittedly has a double standard, giving its police officers special treatment. This is unacceptable.

The public should be able to hold police officers accountable—in Boston and beyond—when police officers drive drunk. The fact that officers are driving drunk is deeply concerning even if they are off duty. Police departments in other areas will terminate a police officer who is convicted of drunk driving. Police officers who exercise poor judgment and drive drunk raise serious concerns because these intoxicated officers are likely to be carrying guns. It is troubling when the Boston Police Department seeks to protect its police officers from public accountability. Protecting police officers from the consequences of their conduct results in police officers who feel they can commit misconduct without fear of meaningful discipline. This results in police officers who feel that while they enforce the law, they do not have to follow the law. 

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