FRAMINGHAM – Framingham Friends Meeting (Quaker) has reviewed the use of force statistics provided by the Framingham Police Department for the years 2016 on.
We were surprised and disturbed to learn that in most of the years reviewed there was a significant disparity in the use of force with African Americans as compared to their presence in the Framingham population (approximately 7%).
Specifically: in 2016, of the 38 reported use of force incidents, 15 involved African Americans or 39% of the total; in 2019, 21% of these incidents involved African Americans; and in the first quarter of 2020, that number rose to 33%.
We have followed up with acting Chief Brandolini of the Framingham Police Department and although very cooperative in looking into the details, he was unable to explain the disparity.
It had been our hope that the Police Advisory Committee would find the statistics as disturbing as we did.
At both the August meeting this year and at a subsequent meeting this month, their response was muted at best.
We had expected that this committee would take up the concern and wish to follow-up with the Police Department.
They were clear that they did not consider this to be their responsibility but the responsibility of a Police Oversight Committee.
Unfortunately, no such committee exists in Framingham.
City Council (John) Stefanini had proposed that the Police Advisory Committee take on this role; however, they have declined and see their responsibility to be facilitating good relationships between the police and the public.
Currently, the question of whether Framingham will have a Police Oversight Committee rests with the City Council and the Mayor.
Framingham Friends Meeting strongly encourages the City Council and the Mayor to take the necessary steps to create a Police Oversight Committee.
The statistics we reviewed deserve to be much better understood.
Do they suggest a pattern of overuse of force with African Americans in Framingham? Are the disparities reflected in these statistics just coincidental? Or do they reflect our society’s systemic racism to which even our police department is not immune?
A Police Oversight Committee would provide the kind of independent review of policies and procedures in the Framingham Police Department that could lead to substantive changes that would further enhance public trust and improve policing.
Framingham Friends Meeting (Quaker)