Cambridge Police Patrol Officers Association— the union representing Cambridge Police Department officers — denounced a new police reform bill on Facebook last Wednesday, writing of a “purge that will come” if the bill is passed.
The original post, which has since been edited, defended police officers in the Commonwealth and labelled a police reform bill in the Massachusetts Senate as a “knee jerk reaction.” The proposed bill, Bill S. 2800, would create an independent police standards and accreditation committee to recertify police officers every three years and maintain a public, searchable database of complaints against officers. Lawmakers approved the bill on Tuesday morning by a vote of 30-7.
In the Facebook post, CPPOA argued against the bill’s passage by warning there would be a “purge” if Massachusetts followed the lead of other states with “problems.”
“Massachusetts police officers are the most educated in the country and we don’t have the problems some other states have,” the post read. “If you think 7 civilians killed in 7 days in Boston is bad, just wait for the purge that will come.”
Residents posted more than a hundred comments — many of which have been deleted — on social media criticizing CPPOA’s statement, including City Councilor Marc C. McGovern, who described the statement as “outrageous” on Twitter. The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts also decried the statement on Twitter, describing the language used as “violent and threatening.”
“This is the kind of violent and threatening language that police are using to try and destroy the bill being debated,” the Massachusetts ACLU tweet reads. “Cops are bullying our legislators because they want the authority to continue to oppress people in the streets.”
In response, the association’s executive board edited the original post to remove the sentence implying a “purge” and issued a follow-up statement clarifying the use of the term “purge.”
“This was not a call for anyone to commit any acts of violence,” the statement read. “This has been misconstrued as such. After conferring with the original author and our Association leadership, we affirm that this statement was in reference to violence crime rates increasing in neighboring Boston and in other cities across the country as police departments have had their funding, staffing and resources cut.”
“We apologize that the two sentences in the original post have been chosen to be interpreted as violent or hateful,” the statement continued.
In a statement posted to Facebook, CPPOA wrote that a member of the union did not author the post. Melissa Hurley, a PR consultant that represents CPPOA, declined to share who wrote the post.
CPD spokesperson Jeremy Warnick declined to comment on the matter.
The Cambridge Police Department also experienced social media backlash in May when CPD Superintendent Jack Albert inadvertently tweeted on the official CPD account, calling Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-Mass.) a “jerk” and U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) a “clown.”
—Staff writer Charles Xu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @charles_xu_27.