Special to the Gazette
The Boston Police Department (BPD) celebrated the graduation of the most diverse class of recruits from the Police Academy. Class 63-23 spent 29 weeks training in physical, tactical, and classroom activities. Additionally, for the first time, the recruits received language access training. The Boston Police Department and the Office of Language and Communications Access (LCA) partnered to embed robust language access training into the Boston Police Academy so the new officers are able to serve all residents regardless of the language they speak. This training helps ensure the City of Boston’s workforce is trained to be culturally competent, bolsters trust with community, and eliminates barriers to access to resources and services for Boston residents.
The first half of the language access training provided an overview of the City’s language and communications policy, the City’s language standards, and the responsibility of all departments to ensure all residents have access to City services and resources. The second half of the training outlined the specific steps officers will take to assist constituents in need of interpretation over the phone or through the City’s video remote interpretation, an instantaneous interpretation service provided on a webcam-enabled device for languages such as American Sign Language. Language access training was also offered to Boston Police cadets.
“This is one of the largest and most diverse classes of BPD recruits the City has welcomed, with 134 new police officers ready to serve and protect our communities,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I’m thankful for the leadership of Commissioner Cox, Academy staff, and all the community partners who helped train these officers. Most of all I’m grateful to this newest class of Boston Police officers focused on building trust and community throughout our neighborhoods.”
“This recruit class truly represents the City that they will be swearing an oath to serve and protect,” said Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox. “Not just in race, ethnicity, and culture; but in lived experience and commitment to serving all communities with fairness and respect. Congratulations to the class of Class 63-23 for the tremendous hard work and sacrifice that it took to become Boston Police Officers.”
The graduating class totals 133 recruits. The class is the most diverse class yet, over 60 percent of graduates are people of color. Fifty nine of the recruits speak another language other than English, representing 16 other languages. Additionally, the recruit class includes the first Somali officers and an officer who is hard of hearing. The new officers include 18 who served in the military, with 14 veterans who served in the National Guard, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, or U.S. Marine Corps.
As part of their academy training, recruits volunteered at and attended several community events, working directly with the constituents they will serve. They attended community meetings, recreational programming with youth and older Bostonians, park openings, welcomed students to schools, and visited houses of worship. The recruits’ engagement in community underscores BPD’s intentionality about training officers in community policing to build trust with residents and be culturally knowledgeable.
“Boston has over 105,000 residents who identify as speaking a Language other than English (LOTE) and needing language assistance. Our office’s citywide efforts to make systemic change are only possible through these intentional partnerships across departments that focus on integrating language and communications access at the forefront of each and every program,” said Jeniffer Vivar Wong, Director of Language and Communications Access. “The Boston Police Department’s commitment serves as a model for implementing language access throughout the City’s departments to eliminate barriers to city services for our residents. This work also couldn’t have been possible without the hard work and dedication from the LCA team, especially Robbie Adams, Florence Glynn, Gayana Daniel and Felida Milhomme.”
Beyond the work with the Boston Police Department, LCA has also collaborated with other departments to ensure their front-facing programs and initiatives are in compliance with the City’s language standards. Currently, the office of Emergency Management has one of the largest multilingual text alert systems and is available in Boston’s top 11 languages. The Mayor’s Office of Housing provides multilingual forms and the Disability Commission’s ADA grievance complaints are also translated into 11 languages. Residents can call BOS:311 and request an interpreter over the phone or use the BOS:311 app available in the City’s top 11 languages.