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Mayor Wu: Patrick Rose case is shaping the city’s approach to collective bargaining

The mayor also said her office is continuing to review internal files on the disgraced former police officer.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Patrick Rose

Mayor Michelle Wu said Monday the case of disgraced former Boston police officer Patrick M. Rose, Sr., now a convicted child molester who sexually abused six children over two decades, has shaped how city officials are negotiating collective bargaining agreements with Boston’s law enforcement and other unions representing city employees.

The case has been a source of controversy for the Boston Police Department in recent years after criminal charges were filed against the former president of the city’s patrolmen’s union in 2020.

A Boston Globe investigation last year found Rose was able to remain on the force for 20 years despite a 1995 internal department probe that found he likely sexually abused a child.

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Rose pleaded guilty in April and was sentenced to serve at least 10 years in prison.

Appearing on WBUR’s “Radio Boston” on Monday, Wu was asked what she has learned while speaking with former department executives about the case.

Wu said that although the agency is not the only one, the Boston Police Department is “in many ways, bound by layers of policies within individual departments but also contractual obligations,” culture, and state law regarding how cases like Rose’s can be resolved.

“It can be very tough, and it’s a reminder every day that our next collective bargaining session … has a lot more to do with how this department will function than just how much employees get paid,” Wu said. “And so we’re really trying to incorporate that into many bargaining discussions.”

Specifically, Wu said the city is looking at incorporating “operational changes” into collective bargaining agreements, not just for police unions but also in contracts with other city agencies, too.

She suggested those changes could include language that sets clear timeframes for departments to address personnel matters and misconduct like that presented in Rose’s case.

“Over time, it can become very difficult for a case to be pressed forward,” Wu said. “It relies on testimony from survivors who are under a tremendous amount of pressure, and if that testimony ends up being withdrawn for whatever reason over time, or if the case goes on a long time and the memories of different witnesses fade or the courts become frustrated, then it’s just harder and harder and harder.”

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Wu described the possible contract updates as an effort to “tighten up” policies.

Essentially, the changes could say, “‘Here’s the clear rules,’ whether that’s through an objective disciplinary matrix or provisions within the contract that say, ‘These types of incidents will have accountability that’s tied to a particular timeframe,'” Wu said. “‘This set of issues needs to be resolved within 30 or 60 days,’ right, as opposed to four or five years, where then the case falls apart and it becomes very difficult to actually reach justice.”

Wu’s comments came a few weeks after the mayor said she personally delved into the department’s internal affairs report on Rose.

Earlier last month, Wu gave a WCVB interview in which she said she had only read a redacted version of the report. Wu made a comment that implied she was blocked from reading the report, but she later said her remarks were “misinterpreted.”

So far, the city has only made public 13 pages of Rose’s 100-plus page long file.

On Monday, Wu said she and her staff are thoroughly reviewing the report to “strike the right balance” between protecting the privacy of survivors and making the matter more transparent to ensure public trust in the department.

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“Our teams have been diligently going through that pass after pass after pass, through those documents, and settling at the right balance for where we’ll land,” Wu said.

Listen to the full WBUR interview:

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