Boston Police Commissioner William Evans joined Boston Public Radio to answer listener questions, and talk about Ferguson protests.

Credit: Will Roseliep / WGBH News

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans On Ferguson

November 25, 2014

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans joined Boston Public Radio Tuesday for his monthly "Ask the Commissioner" segment. Evans fielded listener calls, and talked about public reaction to the Ferguson grand jury decision.

The following are excerpts from Evans' appearance on BPR. To hear the entire interview, click the audio link above.

  • Was Evans worried about Ferguson reaction here in Boston? "I had some concerns, you know. That whole issue of setting an exact time [to make the announcement] — I've done it with the sporting events, and you never want the game to end at the last minute because the crowd erupts." In the case of the Ferguson grand jury announcement, "just put out a press release when no one expects it."
  • Was the law enforcement response to Monday night's protests in Ferguson appropriate? "I don't want to Monday-morning-quarterback what they did. They were probably looking at businesses being closed, the school buses. The kids were at home."
  • Did Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon compound the problem by declaring a state of emergency? "Yeah, I think it took it up quite a bit. It sort of inferred that the worst was going to happen."
  • Was the open-ended schedule for the grand jury announcement tough for Boston police? "Honestly, I was supposed to go down to Philadelphia and run the marathon, but I had to cancel."
  • In cases where the outcome may cause public uproar, does the Suffolk County DA give you a heads-up? Absolutely. We work very close with Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley. We know when something's coming, and we can (...) make sure the city is safe and nobody gets hurt."
  • When is it okay for police to use tear gas? "If [crowds] start throwing bottles, and things start getting out of control, (...) [it's] usually a last attempt to get crowds to disperse."
  • How do police departments decide when to release the name of an officer if they're involved in a fatal incident? "Every department has a different policy on when they will release the information."
  • Would you release the name? "I would. (...) If you're really concerned about the officer's safety" you might think twice.
  • How does BPD's diversity compare to Ferguson's? "We've worked hard to increase the diversity of our department. (...) [On our] command staff we have a representation of the community that I don't think Ferguson have. (...) We've gotten a lot better."
  • Do you guys struggle with being mentioned in the same breath as Officer Darren Wilson? "Everybody looks at police officers in the same sort of way: (...) 'they're all Darren Wilson.' (...) We've come so far in Boston that we've built a lot of trust. (...) When you seen the peace and quiet last night in the city, that doesn't come easy. (...) We know we're not perfect. It's a very dangerous job. (...) We make quick life-and-death decisions and so, (...) our only mission out there is to make sure the city's streets are safe."
  • Were you able to sleep at all last night? "When I got home my adrenaline was still rolling. (...) I was up at 4:30 in the morning. (...) On two hours' sleep I was back out there."

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