Daily Archives: June 22, 2010

BPD Shares Diversity Data

Published June 22, 2010

After I wrote about hiring more Sgt. Homer’s, Elaine Driscoll of the Boston Police Department sent me some valuable demographics about the city’s ranks.

“The Police Commissioner has the most diverse command staff in the history of the Boston Police Department,” she said in an e-mail.

Here is BPD data on ethnicity and gender within its sworn ranks:

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How To Honor Sgt. Homer? Hire More Sgt. Homers

Published June 22, 2010

First, stop what you’re doing and read about the fascinating quest of Margaret Sullivan, a Boston police historian who discovered a tiny clue in an old book and wound up rewriting the city’s racial history.

His name was Horatio J. Homer. Sergeant Homer. He joined America’s oldest police force in 1878 and served with distinction for 40 years. He was buried in an unmarked grave and forgotten.

After reading Kevin Cullen’s column in the Globe today, I called Larry Ellison, the president of MAMLEO, the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers.

“I thought it was amazing,” Ellison told me. “I had no idea that any persons of color were on the force that far back.”

Until recently, the official record showed that Boston hired its first black cop in 1919, after the police strike. Not so.

Fast forward to 2010. The BPD’s ranks still aren’t nearly as diverse as city itself. Last August, Bianca Vazquez Toness reported on the department’s ambitious efforts to diversify. Despite the department’s progress, very few minorities make it to supervisory positions.

Of the most recent batch of 50 police sergeants, Ellison told me, one was black.

“I was very pleased that (Homer’s appointment) was that far back but also troubled by the fact the way things are going now. There won’t be many Sgt. Homers in the Boston Police Department,” Ellison said. “It’s just as hard to be promoted now as it was then.”

Of the 2,000 Boston cops, Ellison said, there is one captain of color. There are no female captains and no female lieutenants.

“What better way (to honor Homer) than to have a police force in 2010 reflective of progress?”

I have a request in to interview Commissioner Ed Davis, who has addressed this matter candidly before. Meanwhile, Ellison and MAMLEO are filing suit to challenge the antiquated sergeant’s test, which Ellison said favors cops who are good at studying for the test, not those most qualified to lead.

He Does It With ¡Salsa!

Published June 22, 2010

Hello, hot and spicy Hubbub fans, Andrew Phelps here. Intern Talia Ralph has become enamored of our own José Massó, a fixture of WBUR’s airwaves for 35 years as of this month. We’ll be talking with him on Radio Boston in less than an hour from now. I know Jose as the million-watt man who treats everyone like family. Ask him, How are you? And he replies: Better than yesterday but not as good as tomorrow. Here’s Talia.

WBUR's Jose Masso, host of "Con Salsa," in June 2005. (Angela Rowlings/WBUR)

WBUR's Jose Masso, host of "Con Salsa," in June 2005. (Angela Rowlings/WBUR)

As Radio Boston prepares to discuss the 35-year legacy of WBUR’s José Massó and Con Salsa, I’ve been researching the man behind the (hot, spicy) music, mostly out of my own fascination with his life. José, who has been presided over our airwaves on Saturday nights since June 22, 1975, is a renaissance man and rock star of sorts. As one observer wrote in Hispanic Issues in Higher Education:

José’s resume reads like the cast of a Hollywood movie. The political liaison on the presidential campaign trail. The investigative TV journalist. The innovative high school teacher who makes learning fun. The late-night disc jockey. The high-powered sports agent.

Despite the many hats he wears, José is perhaps best-known for the connection he established with the Latino community of Greater Boston through Con Salsa.

Back in the mid-70s, it was one of the only shows that broadcast Latin music in New England, and for many, it was a welcome connection to home, family, friends and the culture of salsa and merengue.

And for more about his amazing run both off- and on-air, don’t miss the king of salsa himself on Radio Boston on Tuesday.

And as José would say in his sign-off back in the 70s: Wherever you go, whatever you do, whoever you’re with, make sure you do everything ¡con salsa!

What We're Working On: Tuesday

Published June 22, 2010

Wondering where your fundraising dollars go? Here the people and stories our journalists are chasing on a warm Boston Tuesday:

  • Bob Oakes and Lisa Tobin are examining whether the city has succeeded in making the Rose Kennedy Greenway a gateway to the waterfront. Their story kicks off a new WBUR series about Boston Harbor called “Look Out.” (Don’t miss Adam Ragusea’s related but different story from Radio Boston a few weeks back.)
  • Curt Nickisch is comparing and contrasting the way local Brazilian and German communities watch the World Cup. Should be a lot of fun. Later today he’ll cover Venture Summit East at Harvard, a conference for VC’s. Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker will speak there at noon.
  • David Boeri is repackaging his story on the budget troubles of Gardner, the defunct chair capital of the world, for NPR. Good story, worth a listen.
  • Sonari Glinton is reporting on potential state budget cuts to special education.
  • Bianca Vazquez Toness is covering a planned protest of a state amendment that would bar undocumented immigrants from in-state tuition.
  • Andrea Shea is profiling the key players in Massachusetts’ struggling creative economy.
  • Kevin McNicholas, a WBUR freelancer, is covering a new conference with opponents to legalized casino gambling in Massachusetts.
  • Intern Carolyn Cruthirds is attending a news conference with the Boston TenPoint Coalition, where leaders will declare a gang violence ceasefire as part of the semi-annual “Season of Peace.”
  • I’m trying to book Marc Rotenberg, the Internet privacy guru, for a Radio Boston story about Google’s Street View cameras collecting personal data from home Wi-Fi networks. The Massachusetts attorney general is now involved.

All plans subject to change, etc.