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Judge Will Decide On Boston Police Body Camera Dispute By Friday

A Superior Court judge will decide by Friday whether to grant an injunction, sought by a Boston police union, that would further delay a body camera pilot program.

The Boston Police Patrolmen's Association is seeking to have Judge Douglas Wilkins halt the pilot program. The union believes the city violated an agreement to do a voluntary program when the police department began assigning body cameras to 100 officers.

The city began assigning the cameras after no officers volunteered for the pilot.

The pilot program was supposed to start at the beginning of this month, but has been held up since the police union filed an injunction at the end of August to stop the program.

In court Wednesday, Police Commissioner William Evans said the police department is ready to start the pilot on Monday.

"It’s unfortunate that this is getting dragged out in court because people look at us like we have something to hide and that’s not the case," Evans said following Wednesday's hearing, his second day taking the stand in Superior Court.

The police union said the city did not give the voluntary program enough time to work.

"We think Boston should have a body worn camera pilot program," the union's attorney John Becker said in court. "What we're seeking is a delay, not a stop to that program."

Becker said moving forward with the program as is would cause "irreparable harm" to the bargaining process and to officers because people may react negatively toward officers with cameras. Becker also pointed to Evans' initial reluctance to embrace body cameras and called it a "double standard" to not give officers more time to learn about them. Evans said in court Tuesday that he was initially "lukewarm" about body cameras mostly because of costs.

"If it took the commissioner a year to come around to this, why would he expect the officers to come around in two weeks?" Becker said, referring to the weeks after the city reached a deal with the union and sought volunteers.

The city argued that officers have had plenty of time to learn about body cameras since the pilot program has been in the works for about a year and the Boston Police Department has had multiple discussions with union officials.

"We’ve delayed this program enough," Evans said. "I’ve made a commitment to the community to be as transparent and accountable as possible. And the officers have nothing to hide. I'm sure they’re going to embrace this program once they get it going."

The union reiterated that it believes the best way to move forward is with a voluntary pilot program — and to re-neogitate a deal to see if they can get volunteers.

"What I’m telling you is this has nothing to do with body cameras. This simply about bargaining," BPPA president Patrick Rose said following Wednesday's hearing.

Boston's attorney Kay Hodge said the city used its lawful power to move forward and "at the end of the day [Evans] had the authority to assign regardless of the agreement." Hodge said if the injunction to halt the program is granted, the city is prepared to head back to court to ask that the order be vacated.

Judge Wilkins will now decide on the matter. Wilkins said he plans make his decision on the injunction by noon on Friday.

Earlier:

Zeninjor Enwemeka Twitter Digital Reporter
Zeninjor Enwemeka is a digital reporter, covering a range of news. She also covers tech and culture as part of WBUR's Bostonomix team, which focuses on the innovation economy.

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