OPAT will provide independent oversight and advise on policing policy and reforms
Tuesday, April 13, 2021 – Mayor Kim Janey announced at a press conference this afternoon that Stephanie Everett will serve as the Executive Director of the newly created Office of Police Accountability and Transparency (OPAT). Everett, an attorney who currently runs her own private practice specializing in criminal, care and protection, residential real estate, and business formation matters, will lead the office charged with implementing an ambitious set of community-driven reforms to policing in Boston. OPAT, the signature recommendation of the Boston Police Reform Task Force, creates a single point of public access to a new standard in police accountability and community oversight. Everett’s office will house and support the newly created Civilian Review Board and the Internal Affairs Oversight Panel, which strengthens the existing Community Ombudsman Oversight Panel. OPAT collectively holds subpoena power for the review board and oversight panel. Everett will begin her role as Executive Director of OPAT on April 27.
“As Mayor, I’m committed to safety, healing and justice, in every Boston neighborhood,” said Mayor Janey. “That starts with trust. Transparency and accountability are foundational values when it comes to fostering trust. This is especially true for law enforcement. That’s why my administration is doubling down on our work to stand up the Boston Office of Police Accountability and Transparency. And today, I’m proud to announce its first leader, attorney Stephanie Everett, as Executive Director of the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency.”
Joined at the event by Superintendent-in-Chief Greg Long of the Boston Police Department, Mayor Janey highlighted that her budget proposal for the coming fiscal year, which will be presented to the Boston City Council at an event tomorrow morning, includes a $1 million investment to establish OPAT. Everett, who will report directly to Mayor Janey in her new role, will be responsible for hiring and managing a nine-member staff to help carry out the work of the Civilian Review Board and Internal Affairs Oversight Panel. In addition to staffing, the proposed funding in the fiscal year 2022 budget will be used for technology support to create public safety dashboards and to address other technical needs of OPAT.
“I have spent my entire career fighting to give voice to those who are underrepresented, and that’s exactly how I’ll approach my work as the Executive Director of OPAT,” said Everett. “I have tremendous respect for our police officers who carry out their duties with integrity, compassion and empathy for the people they serve. Ensuring that those values are the standard across the entire force and that any misconduct is brought to light and handled appropriately is OPAT’s charge. I look forward to working with Mayor Janey, the Boston Police and the community to bring about necessary reforms and enhance public trust and confidence.”
One of OPAT’s first tasks will be to conduct a review of disgraced former Boston Police Officer Patrick Rose’s internal affairs files from 1995. Despite criminal charges being dropped at the time, a BPD internal affairs investigation found credible evidence that Rose had sexually assaulted a 12-year-old child. However, it is unclear whether Rose faced any discipline as a result of the internal findings, and he was allowed to remain on the force for over two decades, eventually becoming the president of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association. OPAT’s review of the matter is intended to uncover and remedy shortcomings in BPD’s internal affairs process so that such egregious errors are prevented in the future.
“I was heartbroken and angry to learn there was no effort to keep Rose from coming into contact with minors after serious charges were found credible by BPD’s own internal affairs probe in 1995,” said Mayor Janey. “The likes of Patrick Rose will not be protected on my watch, and those who are complicit in abuses of power will be held to account.”
Everett enters her new role with broad experience as a lawyer and community advocate. Prior to practicing law, Everett devoted her professional career to public service and ensuring equal access to state and local resources, especially for underserved communities. Her past roles include serving as chief of staff at the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance, deputy chief of staff to State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, and manager for public safety at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. Everett has been recognized by Super Lawyers as a rising star and by Lawyers Weekly as a Top Woman of Law. She resides in Mattapan with her husband and children.
Mayor Janey emphasized that policing reforms are at the heart of Boston’s path to safety, healing and justice. The Mayor’s fiscal year 2022 budget will dramatically reduce overtime spending by an estimated $21 million, a 33 percent reduction compared to the current fiscal year spending level, through a three-pronged strategy. The first step is to expand the police force with 30 additional officers. Two, 125-member recruit classes are budgeted to help compensate for retiring officers. Secondly, the number of cadet recruits will be increased by 50 percent, from 40 to 60, in an effort to further enhance the diversity of the force. Finally, the budget increases funding for BPD’s Medical Triage Unit and clinicians who will help get inactive officers back to work or off the payroll.
The Janey administration is committed to reimagining policing with new ideas and fresh approaches. Mayor Janey announced a new effort to amplify the role of mental health clinicians in responding to mental health calls that police officers often handle. The Mayor also underscored the value of safe and stable housing as a source of justice for victims of violence. Boston’s Chief of Housing, Sheila Dillon, will be charged with developing supports to safely relocate families that have been impacted by homicide.