A union representing city cops has lambasted the leadership of both the City of Boston and its police department for allegedly ordering some police officers to work 24-hour shifts during recent major events in the city.
The Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association said that more than 120 officers worked overtime — the “vast majority” ordered to do so — during events like the city’s “Open Streets Boston” in Jamaica Plain on Saturday, a Red Sox game and a festival in the Seaport. Most of them were required to work at least 16-hour shifts, the union added, with many working three shifts in a row, or 24 hours straight.
“The BPPA has been calling on the City to hire more cops for years,” Larry Calderone, the union’s president, wrote in a statement. “The chronic understaffing of the BPD is now resulting in the unsafe situation of officers being ordered to work 24 hours straight. This is utterly unacceptable; the City is gambling with the safety of our community and our members by these reckless staffing decisions.”
The union added that at least five officers were also ordered to work 24-hour shifts on the last Saturday in June.
“This is a serious issue that should concern all of us in terms of not only fatigue and burnout of the brave men and women of BPD, as well as their work and life balance with their families, but also the public safety implications for tired officers, their families, and the general public,” wrote City Council President Ed Flynn.
He added that he has “consistently called for … Boston to hire hundreds of additional Boston Police officers every single year in the interest of public safety” and will continue to do so.
The union said that current staffing levels are far below what is required in a 1980-era city ordinance that required a minimum 2,500 officers in the city starting on July 1, 1980, and that thereafter, “additional officers shall be hired from time to time as needed so as to insure that the number of Police Officers on the force shall, at no time, be less than” 2,500.
As of July 8, the police department had a total of 2,051 employees, according to Sgt. Detective John Boyle, the department’s chief spokesman, who added that there are 105 future officers set to graduate from the academy toward the end of the year. He said the department does not disclose a breakdown of that number into job functions, so the number of uniformed officers is unknown.
The union said in a text to the Herald that it said the department employs about 1,600 uniformed police officers.
Mayor Michelle Wu’s office wrote in a statement shared by a spokesman, “We’re grateful for the service of our Boston Police officers every single day to keep residents and visitors in Boston safe.”
Last month, Wu narrowly avoided deep cuts to the BPD in her city budget, which was initially returned to her by the City Council with changes including hacking $13.3 million out of the police budget.
Her $4 billion budget survived when City Councilors Frank Baker, Kenzie Bok, Michael Flaherty, Flynn and Erin Murphy all voted against a motion to chip further from the police.
Boston Herald file photoLarry Calderone, the president of the Boston Police Patrolman’s Association, as seen in a July 14, 2020 file photo. Calderone’s union has slammed the leadership of the city and the Boston Police Department over onerous overtime schedules for some officers. (Staff photo by Nicolaus Czarnecki/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)