BOSTON, Mass. – In recent years, Boston police have gained a lot of experience controlling massive crowds when things are changing rapidly.
In many cases, BPD depends on its law enforcement partners for assistance.
But last year, the Boston City Council enacted an ordinance restricting police use of non-lethal force, such as pepper spray and rubber bullets.
And now, one of the BPD’s top law enforcement partners, METROLEC, says it can no longer send its agents to Boston to help with scheduled events.
“We just couldn’t send our officers into this situation, frankly that’s a problem,” said METROLEC’s current president, Westwood Police Chief Jeffrey Silva.
METROLEC stands for Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council and it is made up of 48 police departments and sheriffs in Massachusetts who pool their resources in the event of an emergency.
Boston is not a member of METROLEC, but BPD and METROLEC frequently share resources upon request.
Chief Silva tells me METROLEC officers are well trained in the use of non-lethal tactics.
But he says the rule change makes things impossible for METROLEC agents in Boston.
“These situations are dynamic. They change in an instant. And so agents must have at their disposal the various tools they need to deal with it. So to come up with a clear rule saying that officers can’t act a certain way according to their training, according to their policy is very problematic for the officer, it’s something we can’t deal with effectively,” Silva said.
Former Boston Police Chief Dan Linskey worries about what all of this means for crowd control in Boston.
“It’s scary that Boston is losing these resources that have been vital to keeping our community safe,” Linskey said. “If outside agencies decided not to send in these trained and equipped resources, Boston would have to find them somewhere. Because it wasn’t like they were overkill. They were badly needed.
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