The City Council voted to approve $3.4 million in grant funding for the Boston Regional Intelligence Center, after a prolonged dialogue that decided the necessity for public security outweighs previous harms created by the entity’s gang database.
The physique’s 7-5 vote on Wednesday releases 4 years value of funding to the intelligence arm of the town’s police division, cash that has been earmarked by the state since fiscal 12 months 2020, however had been held up by the City Council.
“At the end of the day, BRIC helps solve crimes, particularly violent crime, homicides,” City Councilor Michael Flaherty mentioned. “BRIC brings justice and some solace, a little bit of peace and a little bit of closure to those that have had a loved one killed in the streets of Boston.”
The funding will go towards enhancing expertise aimed toward preventing crime, gangs and terrorism. It will permit the intelligence middle to rent eight further analysts, 4 of whom will “monitor active events and communicate in real time,” Mayor Michelle Wu, who filed the grants, wrote in a letter to the City Council.
“The BRIC provides invaluable intelligence gathering and data to keep our city safe and prevent crime,” City Council President Ed Flynn mentioned.
“We want intelligent police,” Councilor Frank Baker added. “We don’t want the opposite of an intelligent police force.”
In a Wednesday assertion, the mayor praised the Council for voting to advance the grant funding, saying that the BRIC performs a “critical role” in offering the intel and evaluation to “close gaps through deploying coordinated resources and service.”
“With the leadership, culture and oversight in place today, I am confident in the Boston Police Department’s capacity and commitment to keep our communities safe, and will continue to ensure that Boston is implementing necessary changes to build community trust and collaboration,” Wu mentioned.
Most of the opposition centered across the BRIC’s gang database, which critics say is racially discriminatory in that it disproportionately tracks individuals of colour.
The 5 councilors who voted in opposition to the grants had been unconvinced that reforms, via new management on the police division and efforts to purge inactive names from the database, have executed sufficient to restore prior harms.
“I don’t believe it makes us safer,” Councilor Ricardo Arroyo mentioned. “They haven’t proven their worth and the fact that they’re currently under investigation for possible civil rights abuses and racial discrimination makes it impossible for me to vote for these grants today.”
Councilor Kendra Lara mentioned a vote in favor of funding the BRIC was “regressive,” and one which factors to a metropolis “moving backwards on police reform.”
“We should not only be moving funding away from BRIC, we should be looking at how to get rid of the gang database altogether,” Lara mentioned. “I am a little discouraged that it is evident this vote is going to fall along racial lines.”
Councilors Gabriela Coletta and Liz Breadon voted in favor whereas calling for extra accountability, transparency and oversight of the entity. Coletta known as for the physique to carry bi-annual hearings with BPD to “help us get the lid off of BRIC.”
Flaherty, who criticized the City Council’s vote to reject $2.5 million in BRIC funding three weeks in the past, challenged opposing councilors to place “your money where your mouth is” and do the work to carry the intelligence middle accountable.
“Don’t be an obstacle, be a partner,” Flaherty mentioned. “Today’s BRIC is not the BRIC of two years ago, not the BRIC of five years ago, not the BRIC of 10 years ago. Give them an opportunity to earn the respect and trust we’re willing to offer them.”
Frank Baker, Liz Breadon, Gabriela Coletta, Sharon Durkan, Ed Flynn, Michael Flaherty and Erin Murphy voted to approve the BRIC grants. Ricardo Arroyo, Kendra Lara, Ruthzee Louijeune, Julia Mejia and Brian Worrell voted in opposition. Tania Fernandes Anderson was absent from the day’s assembly.
The City Council voted unanimously, nonetheless, to approve a $1 million federal grant for the police division, to detect “nuclear and other radioactive materials.”