July 30, 2009
Statement given by Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis at today's (9/30/09) news conference.
Thank you all for being here today. We are also joined by several guests and I would like to thank them for their continued support and participation. Joining us here is Minister Don Muhammad, Karen Payne from the NAACP, Michael Kozu from Project Right, and Detective Larry Ellison from MAMLEO.
On Tuesday July 28th the Boston Police Department placed Officer Justin Barrett on administrative leave pending the outcome of a termination hearing. On that day I was made aware that this officer admitted to being the author of correspondence which included repulsive racial slurs.
At that time and after a meeting with command staff, I moved immediately to take action and the officer was stripped of his gun and badge.
I was presented with a set of facts and believed that the appropriate and only response was to place the officer on administrative leave and set the wheels in motion for a full investigation. The officer is entitled to his due process and we will see that process through. There will be a thorough internal affairs investigation and hearing process which will lead to a termination hearing scheduled in the next week to ten days.
The Boston Police Department has a top to bottom commitment to community policing. Community Policing is based on trust. This type of venomous rhetoric is severely damaging. Maintaining our community relationships is paramount to our mission to serve the citizens of Boston.
We all work with the community and have made great strides to earn their trust. We must not allow this action to affect those relationships that have been forged and the progress we have made over the years.
The Boston Police Department is committed to a standard of excellence. Our community rightly has high expectations for us. It is a standard that the community deserves and we are required to meet. Officer Barrett’s actions do not comply with those expectations.
Barrett’s e-mail was racist and inflammatory. These racist opinions and feelings have no place in this department or in our society and will not be tolerated.
Barrett’s comments were directed at Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates. I regret the direct insult toward professor Gates and have personally reached out to him to apologize for this offense and inform him of the department’s immediate efforts to make this officer accountable.
I have also asked that in the coming days, members of the department reach out to those in the community that we serve, and extend ourselves to others, to reiterate our commitment to them, our citizens, and to improving relations at all levels.
As I have stated in the past, I am very proud of the officers and civilians of this department who carry out their duties in the finest traditions of the BPD. We will not allow the unacceptable actions of one member to define who we are as a police organization. This department has over 2,000 uniformed officers and 700 civilians who conduct themselves with the utmost professionalism. I applaud your integrity and continued hard work.
As a department, we must learn from this most unfortunate incident and move forward.