Boston declares racism a public health emergency, will give police overtime to community programs

Boston declares racism a public health emergency, will give police overtime to community programs
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Boston has declared racism a public health emergency and will divert funds meant for police overtime toward community programs.

Mayor Marty Walsh (D) announced the change on Friday and posted the plan on Twitter. According to the new initiative, 20 percent or about $12 million of police overtime funds from the 2021 fiscal year overtime budget will be reallocated to "community programs for youth, for homelessness, for people struggling with the effects of inequality.”

“The health impacts of historic and systemic racism are clear in our COVID-19 case numbers,” Walsh said. “And the impacts go far beyond this current crisis.”


“We’ll be backing this declaration with an initial investment of $3 million that’s going to be transferred from the police overtime budget to the Boston Public Health Commission,” Walsh announced. “The health commission will work with our city’s departments, including our police department, on strategies to directly assess any impacts of racism have on the lives and the health of Boston residents.”


The Boston police commissioner welcomed the mayor's reforms and said police are being over-relied on for small disputes, according to a report from MassLive.com.

“Quite frankly, what I’ve heard in the community is we wear too many hats anyway,” Boston’s Police Commissioner William Gros said. " A child doesn’t want to go to school? You call the Boston police. A child’s on the bus being unruly? You call the Boston police. There’s an emotionally disturbed person in a home? You call the Boston police. How many hats do you want us to wear?"

The new reforms also include the creation of a task force to carry out the changes and plans to look at more proposals for police reform that are part of the viral "8 Can't Wait" campaign.

Boston's announcement comes as police departments and lawmakers across the country face pressure to address racism in law enforcement and to prevent police brutality in the wake of the death of George Floyd

Protests have erupted nationwide and globally after Floyd, a black Minneapolis man, died in police custody.