Boston mayoral candidate says NYPD does a great job balancing civil liberties and public safety

Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley (far right), with City Councilor Rob Consalvo (center), and Mayor Thomas Menino. Photo credit.

Gumshoe independent reporter Chris Faraone, formerly a staff writer at the now closed Boston Phoenix, attended a Boston mayoral candidate debate last night. When the subject turned to public safety, Faraone reported, Suffolk County District Attorney and mayoral hopeful Dan Conley said that New York City was a model for Boston.

Yeah, you read that right. Someone running for mayor of Boston implied, in public, that Boston should emulate New York City when it comes to balancing civil liberties with public safety. That's the same New York City that is home to racist stop and frisk, the paramilitarized and CIA-trained NYPD, and extensive spying operations directed at Muslims and dissidents.

The NYPD is one of the most dangerous organizations in the country when it comes to threatening our civil liberties. One of the primary dangers is that, as a leader and trailblazer among departments, police nationwide will seek to emulate Big Brother NYPD. I've been worried about this kind of NYPD-creep for some time; Conley's remarks, especially coming from the current top prosecutor for Boston, are therefore chilling.

Does Dan Conley endorse stop and frisk, paramilitarized police, and authoritarian state spying on First Amendment protected speech and activity? Someone should ask him -- and every other candidate -- directly about each of these critically important issues. After all, in the wake of the Marathon attacks this past April, the next mayor of Boston will be granted significant leeway to shape the relationship between civil liberties and public safety for coming generations.

Boston should think carefully about whether it wants a mayor who thinks the NYPD is a model for anything, except maybe for what not to do. 

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