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Councilors demand action to protect BTD workers after one is stomped

The City Council agreed today to a hearing to press for action to keep BTD and other city workers safe on the streets following a Friday attack in Grove Hall that sent a BTD supervisor - just months from retirement - to the hospital with serious injuries.

City Councilor Erin Murphy (at large) said the supervisor remains in the hospital after undergoing surgery to try to repair "the severe trauma" she said was done to his face. Police arrested a suspect - who dropped his state ID at the scene - not long after the attack; he was ordered held in lieu of $500 bail. Murphy said the attack was one of two against BTD workers in just the past week.

Murphy was joined in the request for a hearing by Councilor Ed Flynn (South Boston, South End, Chinatown, Downtown), who said he is outraged by the way BTD workers are treated, in particular its traffic enforcement officers.

"They're harassed all day long by the public," Flynn said. "They're verbally assaulted, they're physically assaulted, they're disrespected every day. It impacts them, it impacts their family, it's a job that doesn't get the respect it deserves, but they're doing their best on behalf of the citizens of Boston. ... The disrespect continues to grow and we need to stand with these city workers. They don't make a lot of money, they don't have influence, they don't get the respect, but they're our neighbors, they're active in our community, they're Little League coaches, they're helping seniors with meals."

He added a lot of traffic enforcement workers are women, and "they are getting beaten up by the public because someone got a ticket."

Flynn said people who get back to their cars 15 minutes late to find a ticket shouldn't take it out on a BTD worker: "Prepare your schedule better."

Council President Ruthzee Louijeune (at large) assigned the scheduling and holding of the hearing to the council's committee on city services and innovation technology.

Watch the discussion (and side discussion about whether the matter should have been brought up today as a "late filed matter" rather than next week):

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Comments

So they demand more policing but only to protect the city workers? What about the rest of you?

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When you actually move into Boston.

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They edited their comment from "the rest of us" to "the rest of you"

At least they're admitting they aren't one of us here.

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At least UHub is well policed

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You're just being called out as the complete waste of time you are

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They give opportunities of great pleasure to all the commentators who get off on dogpiling on them.

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You poor little bunny!

Take it to X if you want a right-wing free for all.

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You had to reside in Boston to comment about something in Boston.

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that's not what is going on here.

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I don't know where you live but I feel very safe in this city on a day to day. The only danger I encounter daily is dangerous driving

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I’ve come very close to death and have been injured by dangerous drivers more times than I care to think about in my decades living Boston.

Second most dangerous are the smokers. Maybe first when I worked in a smoking permitted workplace or had neighbors who smoked.

Other crimes are committed in Boston but they are not things I am compelled to be super vigilant about.

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Are you as safe as you were close to death?

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People would respect them more.

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People should read the signs and learn how to park. Is not their fault that the person just park however they want. Get mad for getting ticket because you can't read the signs or don't care for other safety.

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Do you mean they suck because they are enforcing the law or they suck for not enforcing the law?

Just curious where this excuse for violence is coming from, thanks!

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Several years ago, an older White male BTD worker hurled racist and sexist epithets at me and the non-White immigrant guys delivering furniture to our house because I prevented him from giving a ticket to the delivery guys by moving my car so they could park on the right side of the street (it was street sweeping day). He actually did this in front of my (ethnically ambiguous in the winter at least) husband who managed to refrain from strangling the guy harassing us in such a hate-fueled way.

We ended up having a convo with the head of BTD about and then also spoke with the city's legal department. Despite all that, absolutely nothing happened to the BTD guy, at least according to people I knew in City Hall at the time.

So I'm going to hold off on judging. For all I know, it was the same older White guy who finally met someone who was not going to take it anymore.

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It's pretty anecdotal and detailed in the context of OPs comments that I was digging at, which were very broad and vague.

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You probably didn't mean it in this way, but calling anyone's description of their experiences "anecdotal" makes it appear that you are trying to diminish the credibility of their report of their lived experience. Again, you may not have intended that and if so, I would encourage you to refrain from using that term when describing what people report happen to them.

I can understand that you might have been curious about what experiences or knowledge the OP had that brought them to their conclusion. They might have been more than happy to share their experiences had they been asked.

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Tone and the Internet, etc.

Why did OP think BTD sucks and is worthy of violence being put on them, that's more of what I'm after.

Maybe "personal experience" is better, something acknowledging my hope that it's an outlier against the general BTD staff that do tremendous, thankless and to some, aggravating work.

In no way would I doubt your horrible personal experience.

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It just so happens that the injured Supervisor is a life long Civil Servant of Hispanic descent. In the same way that we aren't supposed lump any one group into stereotypes because of the actions of a few or one single individual, we shouldn't lump all of the Enforcement Officers because of one Officer. I'm a recent retiree from BTD and I can tell you that it is extremely stressful, especially because the officers receive very little support from the management or City Hall. Sometimes a negative experience with a constituent can carry over through out the whole day. And before you think that it goes with the job and pay you receive think again, top pay for someone at the end of the pay grade is about 62,000$ a year. A mere pittance for taking such abuse with absolutely no support from the city management. So when you think about Civil Servants think of these good people, because they are serving themselves up on platters to be abused at every turn of the patrol route.

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It's a huge shame the parking enforcement people get so much shit. In my mind that's the most cut and dry kind of policing there is - this isn't people getting shoved to the ground and handcuffed because they "looked suspicious", it's an issue of there are literally rules ON A SIGN about what you're supposed to do, and you didn't do it.

In my mind we need dozens of more parking enforcers across the city. So sick of people parking in places where they're blocking visibility, double parking, thinking their special situation warrants inconveniencing dozens of other people.....

Like not to excuse the racism and sexism from the story above, but if a ticket was PREVENTED by moving a car which then presumably allowed a moving van to park legally.... like why not just park legally to start? A moving van is not uber-eats, it's not a "oh it's five minutes it's fine" kind of thing.

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Like not to excuse the racism and sexism from the story above, but if a ticket was PREVENTED by moving a car which then presumably allowed a moving van to park legally.... like why not just park legally to start? A moving van is not uber-eats, it's not a "oh it's five minutes it's fine" kind of thing.

This is another instance of potential genuine curiosity which comes across as dismissing the reality of people's experiences.

I'm going to choose to assume that you do not live in a neighborhood entirely comprised of on-street parking (because if you did, you would know exactly why we play musical cars with delivery or service providers during street sweeping days). Given this assumption:

On my street during street sweeping season, the parking restriction is one day a week from 12 pm - 4 pm. Typically, the BTD drives ahead of the street sweeper by 2-3 blocks, ticketing people parked on the "wrong" side of the street. [NOTE: I am, for the sake of concision, not getting into the involvement of tow truck companies who coordinate with BTD so that unlucky people get both ticketed and towed, which is it's own separate problem.]

Our car was parked on the "correct" side of the street. The delivery folks arrived during the parking restricted hours but before the street sweeper had come through. They knocked on the door to let us know they were here. I put on my shoes and went outside to move my car so they could move into that spot. Just as we were just about to start moving the vehicles, the not-so-friendly BTD guy rushed up and started screaming at the two Brown delivery guys still on the sidewalk. When I explained what was going on, he widened his ire to include me.

To add to why people get angry with BTD, we recently got a ticket when my husband returned to our house during street sweeping hours and was helping his elderly mother into the house (there are several steps and she needed help) before running back out to move the car. He was away from the car less than 3 minutes and the street sweeper was still 2 blocks away. We were thankfully able to appeal the fine but not without the note from BTD that they didn't do anything wrong but were going to give us a pass this time.

Does this help NoMoreBanks?

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The Parking Enforcement was attempting to enforce the no parking law.

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it was a furniture delivery van - not a moving van - based upon what they wrote. And those you can't definitively know what time they will show up.

If it were a moving van, yes, they should have gone through the process of getting a moving permit (whether by the moving company or the home owner/tenant). But I don't think that scenario was what was described.

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What does "ethnically ambiguous in the winter at least" actually mean?

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You have very little experience with the diversity of human coloration and the impact of the sun on said complexion.

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I'm Black with light skin. I tan in the summer.
Does this mean I'm less Black looking in the winter when my skin is much paler? I'm trying to understand human coloration as a result of ethnic ambiguity.

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For flouting the law:

  • Violating the state's engine idling law.
  • Double-parking/illegal stopping of BTD parking enforcement vehicles.
  • Commission of moving violations; i.e. I personally was nearly run over in a crosswalk, crossing with the signal, by a BTD parking enforcement vehicle not stopping for a turn on red.

And you better believe that when they enforce things like meters with an iron fist, the constituents aren't going to appreciate it much. When you don't treat the public with respect, you're not going to get respect in return.

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There was a court clerk who parked illegally every day in front of Charlestown Court every day because it meant he didn't have to pay for parking. The BTD person never gave him a ticket. I (and several others) reported it dozens and dozens of times on 311. I finally saw her and asked her why she didn't give him a ticket and she said "I don't ticket LEO, firemen, construction works or vets."

Nice. Justice for thee but not for me.

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Is it for flaunting the law or enforcing the law with an iron fist? Sounds like you want it both ways.

Constituents should try parking legally before popping off on BTD staff.

"Laws for thee but not for me" vibes with a sprinkle of justifying assault of public servants

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With an iron fist.

To themselves, not so much.

Heck, they will even change the rules on you while you're legally parked and give you a ticket for it. I've been parked legally and given a ticket for signage which changed while I was parked. They will ticket you for an "R" sticker even though the Commonwealth still considers the sticker to be valid for the grace period for the repair.

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Oddly, I struggle with getting BTD to ticket illegal parking in my neighborhood, so to each their own.

But of course, all of that means they are deserving of getting assaulted.

Have you tried challenging any of those tickets? It just seems like a tremendous abuse of power that should be challenged.

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"But of course, all of that means they are deserving of getting assaulted."

My statement was:

"Perhaps if they didn't suck

People would respect them more."

There's a very wide gap between advocating assault and drawing a connection between BTD staff misconduct and the lack of respect from the public.

I have challenged tickets and won. But if you try to challenge online, the challenge is always denied, so you have to spend the time/money to go down to City Hall to challenge the ticket. And the hearing officers are just as bad, if not worse than the enforcement officers.

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Its a shame your original post didn't detail that a bit more, I mean come on, you replied to a story about a BTD staff member being assaulted and your reactionary post was "Perhaps if they didn't suck, People would respect them more."

Doesn't leave a lot of room for nuance.

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People who jump to bizarre inferences.

But I'm not going to beat them up for it.

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n/t

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For flaunting the law:

Flout.

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I've noticed that drives have gotten more and more aggressive since Covid hit. I'm not super surprised that traffic enforcement is having some of that thrown their way. Attacks on BTD should be treated the same as attacking a cop or any other law enforcement person.

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But even before that, with the increase in oversized vehicles, I noticed that drivers were becoming more aggressive. As if driving a bigger weapon emboldened them further.

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Here's a novel idea, how about keeping ALL Bostonians safe.

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MBTA bus drivers are getting assaulted, BTD workers are getting stomped, teachers are getting attacked, postal workers are getting brutalized, cops are getting beat up. When are their union leaders going to demand their workers be protected and stage a walk-out to support the victims of these attacks.

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Two simple words: Qualified immunity.

Should be a privilege of all public servants, not just cops.

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If you are carrying out tasks on the behalf of the government, traditionally you have qualified immunity during those tasks. There are a world of caveats and special cases to consider, but if BTD is on the city payroll, they likely have qualified immunity in most normal cases.

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Qualified Immunity IS granted to almost all public servants. The issue is the insane way it's been stretched by the cops means most people don't know what qualified immunity actually means - it does not mean "you get to break the law and assault people neener neener".

Qualified immunity means that government workers/officials cannot be personally sued for things that come up as a result of best-faith attempts to fulfill what they understand to be their job responsibilities. So a BTD worker who tickets a car which is then towed, causing the person to not have their car and be unable to drive to the hospital, for example, cannot be personally sued for reimbursement of ambulance fees provided they can show their ticketing of the car was a result of their understanding of the rules/regs they're supposed to do. The person can sue the CITY claiming the car was ticketed wrongly, but the BTD officer has qualified immunity and is immune to personal prosecution.

Note when people sue the zoning board for reasons (as we see on this site all the time), they aren't personally suing each member. Because there is an expectation those members are following what they understand to be their duties, and thus the responsible party is the zoning board/city, not the individual members. If a zoning board member was found to violate the rules/regs egregiously (taking bribes for approval votes), qualified immunity would no longer apply and you could sue them AND the board.

Generally you don't hear about qualified immunity for non-cops because it's reasonable, and the situations in which it would come up are limited and kind of obvious.

The issue with cops is a whole lot of things including violence has now fallen under "things cops are responsible for doing". If a rando is waving a gun around a grocery shore threatening to shoot people, cops are allowed to tackle that dude to the ground and rough him up to get the gun away (not that they will, but it's allowed under duties). So then tackling and roughing up a random innocent for being too ethnic or whatever can be argued to be under that umbrella.... it's a whole situation. If anything, qualified immunity for cops in particular needs to be revisited.

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Even if you completely strip qualified immunity from police officers, you've just created the same situation as doctors where every cop would have to have "malpractice" insurance. Which would almost certainly be negotiated by the partolman's union, collective bargaining is an unmitigated good right UHub, and would be paid by the city/state on the cop's behalf. Cops with bad records would still be insurable since the union would get the best rate through an all-or-nothing deal, i.e. "if you want to cover the 90% of cops that never discharge their weapon in the line of duty, you need to cover the 1% with multiple officer involved shootings".

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It's good that the council wants BTD better protected but do they have a specific plan they want to implement or are they just calling for the Mayor to Do Something About It?

I'm skeptical of politicians who want something improved but don't offer details or a plan. (Or suggest something that is costly/impractical.)

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If we apply punishments for bad behavior consistently a message gets sent. The message is currently "do what you want, beat them, stomp them" nothing is going to happen to me. How do we build a culture of respect for all? How do we get to an understanding that some behavior cannot be glossed over? It is a big ship that needs to be turned, who wants to start the the turn?

We obsess over details of governence while ignoring the acceptance of behavior that just makes more people wish to leave, hurts the quality of life for all, makes folks outside the city shake their head. Sooner or later the gentry leave.....

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There is a lot of research that shows that when an organization allows staff to behave badly, does not redirect behavior or remove bad actors, bad behaviors persists and spreads. The most recent of such research has focused on police and other law enforcement agents.

I have seen and heard entitled people go after parking enforcement for no good reason.

But I have experienced, seen, and heard of plenty of bad behaviors that is not corrected. This suggests a culture within BTD (and other City agencies) that public workers can get away with doing the many things that people have reported here.

Again, public workers do not deserve to harassed or attacked for doing their jobs. But as I and others have described, some are not doing their jobs or they are abusing their power. And it isn't just a few bad apples. It appears to be part of the culture of that department.

Which makes me wonder what really motivates Murphy's call for a hearing. I would have more faith in Murphy's "call for action" if there were similar calls for action by Murphy against the patterns of bad behavior within the BTD.

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Every other person you deal with has a bad attitude, you have no discretion on issuing the ticket not matter what the excuse, constant abuse and threats, assault is an everyday occurrence, lots of walking, crappy weather, often by yourself. Getting hurt or murdered on the job is a real possibility. I'd be for mandatory serious jail time for things like aggravated assault on a public employee who is carrying out their duties. It's a ticket for crying out loud, either pay it or appeal it, the BTD officer can't help you out. When did it become okay folks to respond with tantrums and violence at the slightest case of butt-hurt?

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where I wasn't in the wrong. Just saying.

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I once got a ticket before I'd had a chance to get out of the car to put money in the meter. When I saw the guy writing the ticket I confronted him - he refused to provide me with a note saying that it had been written in error. I fought that one (fortunately I worked walking distance from City Hall) and won. A few months later I get a notification that I hadn't paid a ticket I'd never received - for a date I was able prove I hadn't been in Boston due to an appointment in another town.

So yes, people sometimes get tickets when they aren't in the wrong. Maybe not often, but it certainly happens.

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I once got a ticket before I'd had a chance to get out of the car to put money in the meter.

As clear an example as I've seen of government being a jobs program for the unemployable. If this meter attendant is too stupid to work, I'd be just fine with handing them a UBI check and bypassing the makework part entirely.

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My close call with an undeserved ticket came when I caught some construction dudes putting up a temporary "no parking " sign backdated to the previous day. If I hadn't seen them doing it and moved my car I would have been screwed. Sadly I didn't realize what they were doing soon enough to video it.

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Wow, an entitled driver in Boston? Shocking…

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