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City Council to consider hiring civilian flaggers for road work

City Councilor Kendra Lara (Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury, Mission Hill) today proposed creation of a city office to hire hundreds of Boston residents to provide traffic flagging at the growing number of construction projects she says Boston Police simply can't cover.

The city currently requires construction projects with road impacts to request detail officers from BPD, but Lara said the percentage of projects for which companies sought police details that go without supervision has increased from 32% in 2017 to 43% in 2020 - when a similar civilian flagging proposal went nowhere.

She said construction projects in Boston could support 740 full-time positions paying, as required by state law, prevailing wages, which she said would particularly benefit the Black community, which was particularly hard hit by job losses during Covid-19 and which has borne the brunt of "state violence, overpolicing and mass incarceration."

She added her office has already started talking to local unions about representing any potential Boston civilian flaggers.

City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo (Hyde Park, Roslindale, Mattapan) said the issue is not an attempt to save money - the state law requiring workers get union wages makes that a non-issue - but safety is.

"Having nearly 50% of them unfilled is a safety failure," Arroyo said.

The proposal now goes to a committee chaired by Councilor Kenzie Bok (Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Fenway, Mission Hill) for study before the council votes on it.

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Comments

This is so obviously the right thing to do. Essentially every other place in the country seems to do just fine without having armed cops standing around doing nothing outside construction sites.

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Voting closed 166

But muh overtime.

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Voting closed 53

I think civilian flaggers and crossing guards usually do their jobs better, because they're hired to be there for one thing. It's clear that their one job is to be out on their feet directing traffic. If they're in a vehicle or standing around not directing traffic, they're clearly not doing their job. The cops think if they're in the vehicle or staring at their phones, they have plausible deniability that they were dealing with another task.

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Voting closed 111

The only thing cops work hard at is finding ways to avoid actual work.

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Voting closed 43

They also work hard at "forging overtime sheets" and "covering up for other cops".

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Voting closed 44

There's pretty much no way to argue against this without being both myopic and disingenuous.

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Voting closed 27

could they have the officers assigned to traffic flagging actually do their jobs?

I don't think I've ever seen a BPD officer actually direct the cars around construction. They just stand there and mean-mug the drivers at best, and offer confusing gestures at worst.

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Voting closed 113

I wouldnt have such an issue with the police details if they actually did something other than text/talk on their cell phones, sit in their cars or otherwise pal around with the construction workers.

A jobsite at the intersection of Boylston Street and Massachusetts Avenue is a total choke point, yet the few detail officers they had when the new traffic pattern was set up did nothing but watch traffic pile up.

After about a week of the police seeing how much work there actually is at that particular detail site, there hasn't been a police officer there in months. But find an Eversource truck on a quiet side street with a manhole cover open and you've got cop "on duty" (see above) for 8 hours.

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Voting closed 71

I cycle commute with kids. We often pass construction details in which the bike lanes (sidewalks too sometimes) are blocked and there is no substitute bike lane coned off (and often there aren't any cones at all and travelers are just supposed to figure it out). There have been times where the cop is in the cruiser or standing there doing nothing, and I've actually asked if they'll assist us in getting around the obstruction safely and they get upset and usually won't. There are so many places where the bike route as-is is safe for kids to travel independently, but can't actually, because we never know when they'll head out and there will be a blocked bike lane with a cop being paid to not be helpful.

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Voting closed 81

Fire half the cops in this country. What a disgraceful gang of overpaid bums.

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Voting closed 35

Nor his union henchman

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Voting closed 21

and the article mentioned that they will be involved. The construction companies will be upset as they compete to post their requests at last possible minute so they can get out of paying them.

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Voting closed 28

And would most likely have to still order them through the police detail office to ensure someone would be there.

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that I have ever seen.

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Voting closed 12

And many cases the company needs to get a detail with the permit. So that’s how they do it. No detail no permit

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Voting closed 9

Is that something like the 51st commandment on Moses' tablet: In the City of Boston thou shalt pay police to stand around and do nothing?

There is no Divine rule that says the issuance of building permits is contingent only on paying police details.

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Voting closed 14

That if a private contractor is impacting public sidewalks or roads, they need someone to direct traffic. So the city bargains with the police unions to take a cut of that work and also bargain other pay raises and health insurance payments for those rates.

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Voting closed 5

Implying there is a law or ordinance does not prove the claim. Plus if there is then we can change it.

The city can bargain with private contractors to take a cut of the pay given to non-police flaggers as part of giving private contractors permission to work on streets or sidewalks.

Wait - often the private contractors are actually doing work for the city. Hmmm…a curious circularity. City pays private contractor, which includes paying for police overtime details, for the purpose of doing work needed by the city. Even if the city got a cut of what it is paying that is still costing more than hiring a private flagger.

Add that the police department has to pay people to coordinate details. So not employing staff to distribute details to police saves a lot of money right there.

Police details are a means of certain public officials to receive money for just physically appearing, even if they do nothing. And sometime for not even appearing (e.g. the 4 hour minimum overtime pay). Details are institutionalized monetary bonuses for special interest groups where little and often no real benefit is provided.

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Voting closed 16

For whatever reason, Police details are required to direct traffic. Many details go unfilled and they would like to create non police flaggers to do the job. Prevailing wage would mean they get same pay, but there would be a real savings because it wouldn't be overtime pay.

One interesting point left out is that each police force controls their jurisdiction to details. Boston is full of licensed sworn officers that are not BPD. The transit police had to fight with them to get access to details for T projects. They could open up details to non-Bpd officers.

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Voting closed 12

But you are forgetting the already bargained issues between the city and police union. You ban details you might need to offer up compensation. If leaving Civil Service is about 15% in many towns, I'm guessing details would be around 30%-40% raise. And you might get a much lower quality officer knowing they may or may not have the opportunity to make extra money.

FYI I've always been for getting rid of them except for the concept of possibly getting more lazy, crappy, racist police officers. I could care less on how much the city would lose on it.

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Voting closed 5

Nor his union henchman

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Voting closed 10

You live in an alternate universe where Walsh didn't become Labor Secretary and Wu is still on the city council?

(Oh Shit. Maybe I'm the one who got sent to another timeline?!)

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Voting closed 42

Sadly, Councilor Lara's idealism is going to get crushed by a wall of blue.

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Voting closed 27

If the walls of Jericho fell before the righteous why not the walls of blue?

Between the concerns for gold and silver (I.e., overtime) and even a righteous prostitute (somehow police and prostitutes oddly fit together) the story of Jericho has peculiar resonance in this context of a blue wall.

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Voting closed 8

Have they hoisted that Christian flag onto the city flagpole already? They must have, if we're speaking in Bible anecdotes.

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Voting closed 8

The fall of Jericho is a Hebraic story, co-opted by Xians.

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and the descendants inevitably carry along some of the traditions and mythologies of the progenitor. Christianity grew out of a Hebraic tradition which itself contained many elements of Canaanite and Sumerian predecessors. If religions didn't carry the baggage of earlier religions, they would have little left to sustain them.

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Voting closed 6

Scientology appears to be a wholly-made-up new religion, carrying none of the beliefs of its predecessors. Its beliefs are equally wacky, but different.

I think what engenders new religions is the automatic respect the existing ones get, and the government subsidies in the form of tax exemptions. That was certainly a motive for L. Ron Hubbard.

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Voting closed 3

Hiring people who do not already have jobs puts the money into pockets and families where the money is needed. Even with union wages the overall costs will probably still be lower than the 1.5 times/hr when police are hired to work on these overtime jobs.

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Voting closed 39

Even with union wages the overall costs will probably still be lower...

That's an understatement.

The going hourly rate ranges from $46 to $60, depending on rank, for a minimum of four hours (anything beyond four hours is automatically billed as eight hours).

End the BPD protection racket.

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Voting closed 26

How about stop all the effing building of luxury condos nobody can afford and life science buildings with no one to staff them? Boston looks like hell right now.

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Voting closed 23

would be in favor of getting rid of police flagging, which is long, long overdue.

No one else does it. Come on, Massachusetts.

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Voting closed 20

But not for the city hiring people for flagging jobs,, pass an ordinance about flaggers being required and let the companies take care of the hiring and all that goes with it.
We don't need another city agency which would be corrupted with political favoritism jobs. Yes I'm cynical, but also a lifelong Boston resident and quite aware of how things work here.

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Voting closed 18

This should’ve happened years ago

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Voting closed 6