Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis set a goal on Thursday of reducing overall crime in the city by 10 percent this year and praised officers for their work, but his speech to the department was picketed by union members angered over contract negotiations.
In remarks to on-duty personnel at the Boston Teachers Union hall in Dorchester, Davis said their work has yielded a 25 percent drop in the most serious crimes in the city between 2006 and 2011.
He also praised the department’s clearing of the Occupy Boston encampment in December, in which officers avoided violent clashes with protesters, a marked difference from other US cities.
“After Occupy Boston was closed down, I received phone calls from all over the country and some international inquiries on how we accomplished what we did,’’ Davis said, according to a transcript of his remarks posted on the police department website.
He said the department can reduce crime in part by having officers patrol their beats outside of their cruisers more often. Officers completed 160,000 walking and bicycle beats in the city last year, Davis said, and he wants them to hit the 200,000 mark in 2012.
Other initiatives include adding a crime analyst, eight new homicide detectives, additional training, and technological improvements to help criminal investigations, he said.
Davis’s speech, which he delivered in two separate sessions to officers and civilian employees, was closed to reporters.
He was greeted by a group of about 30 picketers from the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association outside the venue, who held signs that read “No Contract, No Support, No Respect — All in a day’s work.’’
Union president Thomas J. Nee said department morale is low after a lack of adequate training, equipment, and compensation in recent years.
He cited “a series of events over the past couple of years that have led to a measure of breakdowns, and, quite honestly, they’re not being dealt with, and this is just a demonstration of our frustration.’’
The union has clashed with the department over ongoing contract negotiations. Davis and Nee spoke briefly outside the Teachers Union hall, and the commissioner later said the department is negotiating a new contract in good faith.
“We’re working very hard through the negotiation process to get to a point where we get a good salary package for them,’’ Davis said. “But right now, that’s an ongoing process, and during the course of those things, it can be a difficult time.’’
The union was also angered when state lawmakers and Governor Deval Patrick slashed funding in 2009 for the state’s contribution to the Quinn Bill, an educational incentive for officers who receive pay hikes for earning post-secondary degrees.
While the city continues to fund part of the program, the Supreme Judicial Court recently ruled against a group of Boston police officers who had argued in a lawsuit that the city is required to pay the benefits in full, regardless of the state’s contribution.
Davis said Thursday that he understands officers’ anger over the program cuts.
“The Quinn Bill was cut, and people are upset about that, and I don’t blame them,’’ Davis said.
He also touched on the program during his remarks to the officers inside, according to the online transcript.
“I personally believe that it should be fully funded and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts reneged on a promise they previously made to you,’’ he said. “Mayor Menino supports the purpose of the Bill and continues to pay the city’s share.’’