Boston Police canceling time off around election 'to provide sufficient public safety'

Boston’s largest police union pushed back, calling the announcement a “slap in the face” to the city's officers

By Sean Philip Cotter
Boston Herald

BOSTON — The Boston Police Department is canceling officers’ time off around the election “to provide sufficient public safety,” according to an email sent out to cops this week that Boston’s largest police union says is a “slap in the face” to the men and women in blue.

“This is not good for the department, the officers and their families or the people of Boston,” Boston Police Patrolmen’s Union President Larry Calderone wrote in a Friday morning letter to Police Commissioner William Gross.

The Boston Police Department sent out an email on Thursday saying time off is called off “in order to provide sufficient public safety for the week around the election,” according to copies obtained by the Herald. The email says that sworn personnel can’t take vacations from Oct. 31 through Nov. 7, and discretionary days off, including personal days, won’t be allowed from Nov. 2 through Nov. 9.

The Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.

A department spokesman declined to comment further, and the BPD didn’t elaborate on the reason for the move, but it comes toward the end of one of the most turbulent years in generations — and following months of political unrest, including widespread protests over racial issues throughout the summer. The start of such protests in late May, spurred by high-profile police killings in other parts of the country, devolved into a night of rioting downtown.

The summer also has seen other unrelated protests, including a particularly big one downtown against Gov. Charlie Baker’s flu-shot mandate for children in public schools. At times, Baker has called up the National Guard in advance of demonstrations.

Calderone, whose union represents about 1,500 officers, wrote that the department’s move is a violation of the contract — and told the Herald in an interview that it’s an unprecedented “slap in the face” from the department. Calderone called personal days “sacred,” and said the union would file a grievance.

“They were not given any extra compensation or even given a public thanks or showing of appreciation,” Calderone wrote in the letter. “Instead, our officers are vilified, assaulted, battered and even spat on. Never did we think such disrespect would come from our own Department.”

Calderone reiterated to the Herald that there’s an ongoing issue with officers being overworked, in part because the number of officers in the city has shrunk even as the city’s population has risen.

“We drastically need the city to hire more police officers in a more timely fashion,” Calderone said, noting that the union is holding drive-in movie nights on Fridays and Saturdays for its members and their families at the BPPA hall in Dorchester.

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