The BRIC is the brain Boston cannot afford to neglect. But that’s precisely what the dysfunctional City Council is attempting to do right now, and it must stop!
Withholding millions in state grant money from the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC) is basically telling the gun-toting bad guys to keep on terrorizing.
The BRIC is the investigative arm of the city’s police department. They are dispatched to every shooting and homicide in the city — including Sunday night’s gunplay in Dorchester that sent five to the hospital, including two juveniles.
One of those youngsters is fighting for their life.
Data science is real, and the City Council needs to stop playing politics with lives, allocate the grant money, and help bring some safety to the streets.
City Councilor Michael Flaherty is pushing to suspend the rules and pass three grants for $850,000 apiece for the BRIC for the purposes of improving “technology and protocols related to anti-terrorism, anti-crime, anti-gang and emergency response.”
“These funds are vital,” Flaherty said last week. “They’re needed to thwart anyone looking to do harm in our city.”
Mayor Michelle Wu had filed communications for the grants in time for last week’s City Council meeting, for fiscal years 2021, 2022 and 2023. The Council voted to reject the $2.55 million in grants in FY21 and FY22, and did so again Wednesday, via a 7-5 vote.
Now she’s doing it again in time for Wednesday’s council meeting — and adding another $850,000 in unused grant money from FY20, bringing the total to $3.4 million.
Last week’s vote was taken after City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo, who lost his District 5 seat in the preliminary election, questioned if the police department funding was the same grant that “now-Attorney General Andrea Campbell back in 2020 or 2021 rejected on BRIC.”
Arroyo had cited concerns with BRIC at the time, saying that the intel center had to prove that it was increasing public safety. Proponents say it’s key to fighting street violence, while opponents say the gang database BRIC operates is discriminatory.
The seven councilors who voted against the three grants, on three separate roll call votes, were Arroyo, Gabriela Coletta, Sharon Durkan, Kendra Lara (who also lost her seat last week), Ruthzee Louijeune, Julia Mejia, and Brian Worrell.
Voting for the grants were Councilors Frank Baker, Liz Breadon, Flaherty, Ed Flynn and Erin Murphy.
Tania Fernandes Anderson was absent from the meeting.
We urge the council to vote again this week on the grant money. Wu is offering to explain “the legislative process” and “operational needs that these funds would help” before the council rejects the cash again.
Or, doubting councilors could go ask the loved ones of all the people recently shot and see if they’d like the council to do what’s right for Boston. Pass the funding then work on what’s produced.