Police Accountability and Transparency

The Office of Police Accountability and Transparency (OPAT) exists to investigate complaints of police misconduct. Our office ensures that the Boston Police Department’s internal affairs review process is fair and thorough. We also review existing and proposed Boston Police policies and procedures.

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Data dashboards

Dashboards

Review stats related to complaints made with our office:

OPAT complaints dashboard

Dashboard background

Rule 323 provides guidance to officers. It ensures that intelligence and information is gathered via stops or observations out in the field only on:

  • persons suspected of engaging in criminal activity, or
  • persons associating with those suspected of criminal activity.

The rule offers guidance on those stops that implicate an individual’s Fourth Amendment rights. It also clarifies how officers should document interactions with those suspected of criminal activity, or associates of those individuals, in a Field Interaction / Observation / Encounter (“FIOE”) Report. The report provides officers with the mechanism to describe the conditions and circumstances involved in these interactions.

FIOE reports dashboard

DEFINITIONS

Below are the definitions in Rule 323 - Field Interaction / Observation / Encounter (“FIOE”) Regulations:

Sec. 3.1 Encounter:

Defined as an agreed upon interaction with an individual that does not lead to an official stop and/or frisk. If you encounter an individual with the reason for gathering information, you must document the interaction.

Sec. 3.2 Field Interaction/Stop:

Defined as holding an individual in custody briefly, whether on foot or in a vehicle, based on reasonable suspicion. This is to determine the individual’s identity and settling the officer’s suspicions.

Sec. 3.3 Frisk:

Defined as the pat down of the outer clothing, and the area where the person's weapon or weapons are located. An officer may only frisk when they have specific reason that leads them to believe that the person with whom they are dealing with:

  • may be armed, and
  • may pose a threat to the officer or others.

Sec. 3.4 Intelligence:

This consists of documented information on activities and associations of individuals, organizations, businesses, and groups who are either:

  1. suspected of actual or attempted planning, organizing, financing, or involvement of criminal acts, or
  2. suspected of being associated with criminal activity with known or suspected criminals.

Sec. 3.5 Observation:

Defined as a direct viewing of an individual by an officer that does not include actual contact with the individual. Reasonable suspicion is necessary when conducting an observation of an individual. But, the purpose of documenting the observation must be to gather information to justify documenting the observation.

Sec. 3.6 Probable Cause:

This exists when an officer reasonably believes a person has committed a crime. The belief is reasonable when it rests on a real reason that is unbiased. Probable cause may be based on observations or multiple reasons, including, but not limited to:

  • the individual’s prior criminal record
  • flight from the police, and
  • the giving of evasive or conflicting responses to police questioning.

Sec. 3.7 Reasonable Suspicion:

This exists when an officer, based on specific facts and the truth from those facts, believes that an individual:

  • has committed
  • is committing, or
  • is about to commit a criminal offense.

Sec. 3.8 Search:

This is conducted to seize evidence. An officer must have probable cause in order to conduct a search of an individual or their property.

This dashboard was made specifically to display youth (ages 21 and under) Boston Police Department (BPD) FIOE data. 

Dashboard background
Rule 323 provides guidance to officers. It ensures that intelligence and information is gathered via stops or observations out in the field only on:
  • persons suspected of engaging in criminal activity, or
  • persons associating with those suspected of criminal activity.

The rule offers guidance on those stops that implicate an individual’s Fourth Amendment rights. It also clarifies how officers should document interactions with those suspected of criminal activity, or associates of those individuals, in a Field Interaction / Observation / Encounter (“FIOE”) Report. The report provides officers with the mechanism to describe the conditions and circumstances involved in these interactions.

Youth FIOE reports dashboard

DEFINITIONS

Below are the definitions in Rule 323 - Field Interaction / Observation / Encounter (“FIOE”) Regulations:

Sec. 3.1 Encounter:

Defined as an agreed upon interaction with an individual that does not lead to an official stop and/or frisk. If you encounter an individual with the reason for gathering information, you must document the interaction.

Sec. 3.2 Field Interaction/Stop:

Defined as holding an individual in custody briefly, whether on foot or in a vehicle, based on reasonable suspicion. This is to determine the individual’s identity and settling the officer’s suspicions.

Sec. 3.3 Frisk:

Defined as the pat down of the outer clothing, and the area where the person's weapon or weapons are located. An officer may only frisk when they have specific reason that leads them to believe that the person with whom they are dealing with:

  • may be armed, and
  • may pose a threat to the officer or others.

Sec. 3.4 Intelligence:

This consists of documented information on activities and associations of individuals, organizations, businesses, and groups who are either:

  1. suspected of actual or attempted planning, organizing, financing, or involvement of criminal acts, or
  2. suspected of being associated with criminal activity with known or suspected criminals.

Sec. 3.5 Observation:

Defined as a direct viewing of an individual by an officer that does not include actual contact with the individual. Reasonable suspicion is necessary when conducting an observation of an individual. But, the purpose of documenting the observation must be to gather information to justify documenting the observation.

Sec. 3.6 Probable Cause:

This exists when an officer reasonably believes a person has committed a crime. The belief is reasonable when it rests on a real reason that is unbiased. Probable cause may be based on observations or multiple reasons, including, but not limited to:

  • the individual’s prior criminal record
  • flight from the police, and
  • the giving of evasive or conflicting responses to police questioning.

Sec. 3.7 Reasonable Suspicion:

This exists when an officer, based on specific facts and the truth from those facts, believes that an individual:

  • has committed
  • is committing, or
  • is about to commit a criminal offense.

Sec. 3.8 Search:

This is conducted to seize evidence. An officer must have probable cause in order to conduct a search of an individual or their property.

As required by the ordinance establishing the Office Police Accountability and Transparency (OPAT), OPAT shall request Boston Police Department (BPD) statistics from the Boston Police, including number of arrests, and publish it on a monthly basis for public reporting.  

BPD Arrest Dashboard

As required by the ordinance establishing the Office Police Accountability and Transparency (OPAT), OPAT shall request Boston Police Department (BPD) statistics from the Boston Police and the City of Boston (CoB) Law office, including the amount of money the City of Boston spends in settlements or judgments to resolve tort, civil rights, or other legal claims filed against the BPD, and publish it on a monthly basis for public reporting. Any questions about legal terms or cases on the dashboard please contact the CoB Law Department at: 

Email: law@boston.gov 

Phone: 617-635-4034

 

BPD Settlement Data Dashboard

Meeting materials

Meeting materials

Review results of cases voted on by OPAT's Civilian Review Board (CRB):

CRB Case Summaries

OPAT Staff have put together a list of questions below that we often hear from members of the public. You can also download a PDF version of this list. If your question is not answered here, please contact our office at 617-635-4224 or OPAT@boston.gov.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

FAQS

Q: What is OPAT?

A: O.P.A.T. (Office of Police Accountability and Transparency) is an office created to be separate from the Boston Police Department (BPD). It is made up of a professional staff and three panels/boards:

  1. the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency Commission
  2. the Civilian Review Board (CRB), and
  3. the Internal Affairs Oversight Panel (IAOP).

Q: What does the OPAT Office do?

A: OPAT office staff look into all complaints of BPD misconduct and support the operations of the department. OPAT staff also help the OPAT boards in carrying out their duties and create reports of OPAT’s progress and BPD’s current and proposed policies.

Q: What are OPAT’s three different boards?

A: The three OPAT boards are the Civilian Review Board, the Internal Affairs Oversight Panel, and the OPAT Commission:

  1. The Civilian Review Board looks into civilian complaints of BPD misconduct. 
  2. The Internal Affairs Oversight Panel looks into BPD Internal Affairs decisions. 
  3. The OPAT Commission can send out requests for evidence during investigations. It also reviews Boston Police Department policies and procedures.

Q: How many people serve on the boards? How long do they serve?

A: There are nine (9) members of the Civilian Review Board (CRB) that serve for three (3) years each. The CRB has to have at least one (1) youth member, aged 18-21. 

There are five (5) members of the Internal Affairs Oversight Panel that serve for three (3) years each. 

There are three (3) members of the OPAT Commission:

  1. the OPAT Executive Director
  2. the chair of the Civilian Review Board, and
  3. the chair of the Internal Affairs Oversight Panel.

The Mayor appoints the chair of the OPAT Commission each year.

Q: When and where are OPAT board meetings?

A: Each OPAT board has to meet four (4) times a year in a public community space. OPAT board meetings are hosted by the OPAT office. All OPAT board meeting times and meeting locations will be posted to the OPAT website and the Boston City Clerk's public notices website at least 48 hours before the meeting.

If you would like to be added to the RSVP list to get an alert when board meeting times have been posted, please contact opatboards@boston.gov

Q: I feel like I don’t hear about OPAT meetings before they happen. How can I get alerts about these meetings?

A: Please email opatboards@boston.gov to be added to the RSVP list for OPAT public meetings. You will get an alert by email once the meeting notices have been posted to the Boston City Clerk’s Office website. These meeting notices will be posted at least 48 hours before the meeting.

Q: What if I need a translator or accommodations to be involved?

A: If you need accommodations or language services to send us your complaint or be involved in your case, please notify OPAT staff by email or phone before you send us your complaint. This gives OPAT staff time to contact a translator or interpreter or set up accommodations for you. 

To ask for accommodations or language services by phone, please call 617-635-4224. To ask for accommodations or language services by email, please contact OPAT@boston.gov. If you need accommodations or language services so that you can be involved during an OPAT public meeting, please contact opatboards@boston.gov

If you would like to remain unnamed during the complaint process, telling OPAT staff that you need accessibility or language services will not take away this anonymity. You can also bring a translator of your choice with you to any meetings with OPAT staff or boards. 

Q: How do I send OPAT a complaint?

A: There are several ways to send a complaint to OPAT for review. Members of the public can send complaints by mail, phone, online, in person at OPAT offices, or in person at designated locations within Boston. Complaints can be submitted without your name and personal information.

Please note: If you have mobility limits and need an OPAT staff member to finish the intake process where you live, please let us know by email or phone that you need this accommodation.

Are you a member of the Boston Police Department wishing to file an appeal to a decision made by the Internal Affairs Division (IAD)? You must file your appeal with OPAT staff in writing within fourteen (14) days of the date the notification of the finding from IAD is mailed.

If the appeal is sent via mail, the appeal must be postmarked within fourteen (14) calendar days from the notification of the finding from IAD is mailed. For example, if an IAD decision is mailed on December 1, an appeal of the IAD decision would need to be mailed and postmarked by December 15.

Q: I haven’t received the support that I needed from OPAT. Are there other resources I can use?
A: Yes. There are other community resources and legal resources that you can use. OPAT staff have listed below some of the resources available. Please note: This list does not include all of the resources you can use. 
 
If you have sent a complaint to OPAT, then our intake staff will have specific resources for you based on your complaint and your needs. 
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