A new police watchdog agency is coming to Boston.
Mayor Marty Walsh signed into law an ordinance creating the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency, the centerpiece of a host of recommendations made by a task force Walsh convened this summer to study how to reform the Boston Police Department.
OPAT, as it is called, will include a civilian review board and an internal affairs oversight panel that will investigate citizen complaints against police and internal police investigations conducted by the department.
The watchdog office will have subpoena power to compel witnesses and documents as part of its investigations.
"We have the best police department in the country and there’s no reason why anyone should be fearful of what we’re doing today," Walsh said during the signing over Zoom on Monday morning. "What we’re doing today is adding accountability. Whether it's in training, whether it's in hiring, whether it's in diversity, whether it's in police misconduct. We want to make sure we do everything we can so that people have the full faith and trust in the Boston Police Department."
City councilors approved the oversight agency last month, adding in stronger language about discipline recommended by the civilian review board. The police commissioner will have final say on whether or how an officer is punished for misconduct, but if he or she doesn't follow the board's recommendation, the commissioner will have to report back and explain why.
The task force recommendations call for OPAT to be up and running within six months.