Andrea’s entire life has been impacted by the trauma, loss, and injustices of incarceration and the criminal legal system. When she was just eight months old, her mother was killed in a car accident while she was on her way to visit Andrea’s father, who was incarcerated at the time. As a result, she spent the first eight years of her life living with relatives and in foster care. Growing up, she watched her brothers cycle in and out of the criminal legal system. Her twin brother, Andre, died at 29-years-old in the custody of the Department of Corrections. The painful truth that twins born and raised in Boston could have such different life outcomes is what first propelled Andrea to run for office. She saw first-hand how many of the systems that supported her simultaneously failed Andre and deprived him of the same opportunities. Andrea grew up in and represents neighborhoods that see the highest rates of violence and homicide in Boston. She knows we cannot police our way out of these issues but must address their root causes, which are often poverty and trauma.
To ensure communities are safe and healthy and to rebuild public trust with our public safety agencies, we need to reimagine our approach to public safety. We must invest more in evidence-based programs and services that address the root causes of violence and crime. We must remedy long-standing racial wealth gaps, eliminate poverty, and heal generations of trauma. We must invest in the communities and the youth that have been historically under-resourced, implement systems of true accountability and transparency in policing, and use data to eliminate racial disparities in our policing and criminal legal systems. We know that a majority of police officers are dedicated public servants who put their lives on the line to protect their communities. However, we also know from the data and the lived experiences of many Black and Latinx Bostonians that systemic racism and biases in policing and the criminal legal system persist, causing disproportionate rates of police stops, arrests, and incarceration of people of color. We also know that all of our communities want to be safe and feel protected, and police can play an important role in that.
As Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Public Safety and Criminal Justice, Andrea has led efforts to increase accountability, transparency, and justice in policing and taken action to address root causes and treat gun violence as a public health pandemic that inflicts trauma on our communities – working with community leaders, public safety agencies, state and federal leaders, and organizations on collective solutions, including establishing the Youth Development Fund, the first dedicated budget line item for youth programming. She filed legislation to establish a civilian review board with real authority to hold Boston’s police accountable, led the effort to change Boston’s use of force policies, filed legislation to demilitarize our police, subpoenaed the Boston Police Department for its missing stop-and-frisk data, pushed to reimagine the role of Boston’s police and reallocate funding to social service programs, and convened residents in her district and citywide to hear their ideas for how to transform public safety in their communities. Despite pressure from the political powers that be, Andrea was one of the first elected officials to call for full implementation of body cameras in Boston.
Andrea knows that to ensure the health and safety of all our communities, we must break cycles of poverty, trauma, criminalization and generational inequity in Boston, and as mayor she will transform our approach to policing and public safety and reimagine our criminal legal system to deliver equitable access to justice.
As Mayor, Andrea will:
Reimagine Public Safety And Criminal Justice To Address Root Causes Of Violence And Crime
Andrea has been a leader in pushing the City to reimagine the role of police in Boston and reallocating funding to mental health, youth development, re-entry programs, and other community-led violence prevention and intervention efforts that will break cycles of poverty, trauma, and abuse. As Mayor, she will shift our approach to school safety to a restorative justice model instead of a law enforcement one, and establish a new crisis response system to respond to non-violent 911 calls and track 311 requests and correspondence between school personnel and police to identify opportunities for early-intervention.
- Lead an intersectional approach to end mass incarceration. We need to ensure our approach to ending mass incarceration and over-policing takes into account the real disparities and the systemic racism in the criminal legal system, especially for Black and Latino Bostonians who we know have been over-policed and over-criminalized. At the local level, we need action to create equitable access to good education, housing, jobs, mental health services and addiction treatment. To effectively reduce the criminalization of our residents, we need to expand re-entry programs and opportunities for our young people, especially in communities that have been historically targeted, and push state leaders to make diversion programs mandatory for first time offenders whose alleged conduct does not pose an immediate, serious danger to others, with youth offenders being offered alternatives like referral services whenever possible.
- Reallocate at least 10% of the Boston Police budget. Andrea has been a leader in pushing the City to reimagine the role of police in Boston. She has championed reallocating funding from a police budget bloated with overtime, detail pay, and hefty salaries, to chronically underfunded mental health treatment and services, youth development, re-entry programs, and violence prevention and intervention programs and initiatives. Just last year, the Boston Police Department’s budget was over $414 million, with over $60 million in overtime. It was the second largest departmental budget in the City of Boston just behind the Boston Public Schools, while only 3% of the city budget was allocated towards public health for fiscal year 2021. That is why under Andrea’s leadership, she is pledging to reallocate at least 10% of the Boston police budget, which would translate to roughly $50 million in funding, to invest in public health, economic justice, and youth development strategies. She knows from her own experiences growing up that these community-led initiatives will more effectively break cycles of poverty, trauma, and abuse, which will in turn prevent crime and create healthy, thriving communities. As Mayor, she will shift the city’s school safety approach from a law enforcement model to a restorative justice model and increase investment in the Youth Development Fund and youth jobs. Additionally, she will monitor police incident data showing that a large percentage of calls police respond to are for nonviolent behaviors related to substance use, mental health, and houselessness, and she will establish a new co-responder crisis response system to respond to these non-violent 911 calls and track 311 requests and correspondence between school personnel and police to identify opportunities for early-intervention. To actualize reductions in the police budget, Andrea supports exploring certain budget reforms including eliminating the four hour overtime minimum, transferring certain overtime jobs to civilians like construction details, scaling back the BRIC, and eliminating the gang unit and bike unit to add capacity to our busiest police districts.
- Require racial equity and anti-racism training for our entire city government. Andrea believes that every City employee, regardless of department, should participate in mandatory and continual racial equity training to ensure that anti-racism is centered in their work and that employees understand the implicit biases they may have. While we know that training alone does not equal operational or cultural change within these systems, we do want to ensure that every city employee learns about implicit biases, how to use a racial equity lens in their work, and is educated on the history of racism in our city.
Make The Boston Police Department The Most Transparent And Accountable In The Nation
The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many others by police are examples of the most devastating reasons we need accountability in policing, but many residents in our own city, who for generations have had dangerous or uncomfortable encounters with police, did not need to see these painful and public examples to know the system needs reform. As Mayor, Andrea will fight to make sure that the Boston Police Department is a national leader on transparency, accountability and diversity so that public trust is earned which will better allow our police to keep our communities safe.
- Implement the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency. In 2020, Andrea spearheaded legislation to create an independent civilian review board to investigate and provide accountability for police misconduct, and partnered with Mayor Walsh based on recommendations from the Boston Police Reform Task Force to establish an Office of Police Accountability and Transparency. As Mayor, Andrea will implement this office, including its civilian review board and internal affairs oversight board, to ensure it is fully independent, operational, and accessible to residents.
- Demilitarize our police. Andrea and her colleagues filed and passed legislation to severely limit the use of military enforcement tactics like tear gas and rubber bullets by Boston police, tactics that have no place in peaceful protests, but the legislation was vetoed. As Mayor, Andrea will pass and implement a ban on military crowd control weapons and enforcement tactics at peaceful protests.
- Ensure national standards around use-of-force policies are implemented and enforced. We need to institutionalize a use-of-force policy that is enforced to create a standard of de-escalation for the safety of all residents, which includes training officers on proper deescalation to help restore trust in our police department. Andrea would also ban no knock warrants.
- Expand the use of body cameras. Andrea will ensure all law enforcement agencies that operate in the City of Boston have a written, consistent, and transparent body camera policy that is enforced. She will expand the Boston Police Department’s use of body cameras across all departments, including on overtime shifts, and will ensure officers and residents alike know the protocol around circumstances when an officer may or may not have a body camera in use to foster public trust.
- Launch an open data initiative. Andrea believes that our public safety agencies need to be accountable to the people and that by proactively releasing data, we can track our department’s successes in reducing crime, make sure all relevant local, regional and state stakeholders are aware of disparities or misconduct, and help residents understand the work our police department is doing while also being honest about where we can do better, including addressing the stark racial disparities in police stops. She wants to open up policing data to make it publicly accessible to all so that our institutions of higher learning, journalists, advocacy groups, and elected officials can access the data to understand the disparities and create policy that addresses the root causes. When Boston Police failed to release stop and frisk data for years, Andrea was forced to ultimately subpoena the department, and exposed data that showed Bostonians of color are far more likely to be stopped, frisked, and arrested by police. As Mayor, Andrea will create an interactive dashboard of police data including traffic stops, stop and frisk, use-of-force, Field Investigation Observation Encounters (FIOEs) including those that are deemed to be voluntary, demographics of our public safety agencies, and budgetary numbers. Boston has the talent and resources to create a data hub that integrates information across different agencies so we can pinpoint patterns or problems, especially those leading to racial disparities, and then continue to use data-based approaches to track the progress of these implemented reforms. Andrea will ensure that any data initiatives protect our immigrant communities by not releasing sensitive information on our undocumented residents.
- Diversify our public safety agencies. Andrea will diversify our public safety agencies by amending civil service in the hiring process, ending discriminatory practices in the promotional process including ending the use of the current promotional exam, revise the point system for promotions to better reward for community engagement, racial equity training, and other non-criminalizing activities, further explore ending civil service in the city of Boston and work to ensure our neighborhoods are served by officers that live in and understand our communities by extending the residency requirement beyond 10 years. She will also appoint leaders that will create departmental cultures where women and officers of color are respected and empowered to succeed and ensure our agencies better reflect the communities they serve by addressing the underlying causes that drive folks out of the city including improving our public schools and creating more affordable housing.
Focus On Prevention By Investing In Our Neighborhoods And Youth
Andrea knows that we cannot police our way out of violence and trauma. We need to invest in economic development and opportunity especially in our lower-income communities, invest in our youth, especially those with high risk factors, and strengthen the fabric and social connectivity of our communities to address the factors that rob young people of opportunities to succeed. Andrea will regularly convene the Sheriff, District Attorney, Police, Public Defenders, Trial Courts and Probation Officers, the Department of Youth Services, public health and education community partners to talk about what is working and how we can continue to reduce racial and ethnic disparities. Andrea will be a champion for neighborhoods that have been bearing the brunt of inequities for generations and will make youth investment a top priority.
- Invest in communities considered hot spots to improve public safety. We know that the communities that are the most policed often feel the most under-protected and communities that experience the most violence are often the most underserved. We need to revitalize under-resourced communities in partnership with police, community stakeholders, and the residents who live there to create opportunities for local small businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive, build more parks and community spaces especially for our youth, improve lighting, activate vacant lots with new housing, retail, and/or community space, and invest in initiatives like Slow Streets, Safe Street Teams, Street Outreach Teams, Weed and Seed, Comprehensive Community Safety Initiative, and permanent Walking Beats to ensure every neighborhood is safe and all residents feel invested in equitably.
- Remove police from schools and interrupt the school to prison-deportation pipeline. Under Andrea’s leadership, the city will remove police from our Boston Public Schools by eliminating the role of School Resource Officer and repurposing those funds to invest in more school counselors, mental health clinicians, social workers, nurses, and family engagement specialists who are trained in de-escalation and crisis management to ensure that our schools are fully serving our students. Andrea will work with school leaders to rework school discipline code to a restorative framework and convene educators, administrators, and organizations serving our youth to create a more coordinated approach and identify and serve youth who might need additional supports. Andrea is also committed to building our schools’ capacity to protect and support immigrant youth by improving training and increasing resources available to school staff.
- Invest in opportunities for our youth. Andrea has been a champion for youth jobs and programming since she was first elected, establishing the first-ever line item in the City budget dedicated to funding youth programs. As Mayor, she will ensure that we double the line item for youth jobs, with a special focus on high-risk youth, and work with youth and partner organizations in the public and private sector to expand youth employment opportunities and ensure our young people have pathways to economic opportunity as the economy recovers from the pandemic. Andrea will ensure the city delivers information to residents about summer programs and year-round youth employment opportunities in a central, accessible, and language inclusive way. Andrea will work to ensure that youth aging out of the Department of Children & Families have access to housing security and city supports to help them adjust. Andrea will also continue her fight to ensure our schools, including vocational tech schools, and school partners provide a diverse set of pathways that can connect each individual student with the knowledge, experiences, and skills they need to succeed in the life of their choosing.
- Work with state and federal leaders to address gun violence. We need to work with federal and state leaders to build upon policies to reduce gun violence including background checks on ammunition, closing the gun show loophole and stopping illegal gun trafficking, and increase funding for proven intervention models. We need an approach to ending gun violence that prioritizes partnership with police, community-based organizations and the city to prevent shootings from happening in our communities and schools.
- Build trust in immigrant communities. Our immigrant communities, particularly our undocumented residents and our mixed-status families, have long lived in fear of law enforcement and government. This distrust has been built over several presidential administrations and our local government has a responsibility to serve our immigrant communities in a way that understands this history and provides key services that reassures these residents. Andrea commits to strengthening protections for immigrants of all immigration statuses which includes not sharing information with the federal government, and proactively building trust with immigrants across ALL city departments by better delivering services with a cultural lens and effective language access for all residents. Andrea commits to expanding the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Advancement including hiring lawyers to assist with legal representation and other legal issues.
Advance Criminal Justice Reforms At All Levels Of Government
While some of the necessary reforms of our criminal legal system must lie with the state or federal government, Andrea will use her platform as Mayor to be a national voice for systemic criminal justice reform and work in partnership with surrounding local communities, stakeholders, and our county, state, and federal leaders including the Suffolk County Sheriff, Department of Youth Services, the District Attorney, the judicial branch and other relevant departments to end systemic and racial inequities.
- Push federal leaders to pass Congresswoman Pressley’s “Peoples Justice Guarantee.” In order to truly reform these systems and end mass incarceration, we need bold, progressive criminal legal reform at the national level. Andrea will work with the federal delegation to push for the passage of this legislation, which includes incentives to dramatically reduce prison populations, cap prison sentences for all crimes, abolish the death penalty and sentences of life without parole, and restore voting rights for those who are incarcerated.
- Work with state leaders to eliminate cash bail, support efforts to raise the age that youth offenders can be tried as adults, eliminate mandatory minimums, and expand diversion programs. Andrea believes that no one should stay in a jail cell before their trial simply because of the size of their bank accounts. We know that our cash bail system is predatory and Andrea will work tirelessly with state leaders to end cash bail. We also need state leadership to invest in and expand pre-trial diversion programs and alternatives, eliminate mandatory minimums, and raise the age that youth offenders can be tried as adults.
- Address our prison health crisis. Even before COVID-19, prisons have too often denied access to healthcare to those in their custody. Andrea will work with state and local leaders to ensure that those who are incarcerated have access to the health care they deserve while behind the wall and when they return to their community to create a continuum of care.
- Increase funding for and expand re-entry programs. As Mayor, Andrea will work to increase funding and programming for re-entry programs including expanding partnerships with businesses who accept CORI applicants, community-based organizations to provide life skill training and assist in securing supportive housing with a multitude of wraparound services through better partnership with state leaders and coordination with existing housing efforts. In addition, she will work to provide additional support for youth who come in contact with the criminal legal system to ensure they receive a developmentally appropriate response focused on safe and stable housing, education, training, and counseling rather than adult prisons.
As a long-time leader on these issues, Andrea knows past reform efforts were too often met with resistance, dismissed as controversial or impractical, or completely ignored. It should not have taken the public, painful murders of Black men and women by police for our leaders to not only acknowledge the systemic racism in our policing and criminal legal systems, but also to take real action to implement evidence-based reforms to transform these systems so they serve us all equally. Drawing on a lifetime of painful proximity to these issues, Andrea has been a bold and proactive leader for police and criminal justice reform for years, and will continue that leadership as mayor. Andrea also knows that many of the people serving in our public agencies want to be a part of this reform and want to see systemic failures addressed. Andrea is ready to be a mayor that brings people together and takes real action on systems reform to ensure that all residents feel safe in their communities and that we address the disparities that have existed for far too long.