City Council proposal calls for hiring hundreds of Boston residents as flaggers at construction sites


The city currently requires Boston police to be used on construction sites.

The Boston City Council will explore a proposal centered around civilian flaggers. Photo by Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

On Wednesday, the Boston City Council again broached a touchy subject: civilian flaggers for construction projects. Councilwoman Kendra Lara has proposed the creation of a city office that would hire hundreds of residents to report traffic at Boston’s many construction sites, Universal Hub reported.

The idea behind Lara’s proposal centers on creating jobs that she says would particularly benefit the black community, which has been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, as well as “state violence, over-policing and mass incarceration,” according to Universal Hub.

The city currently requires construction projects with road impacts to request detail officers from the Boston Police Department. Lara said the percentage of projects where a police detail was sought but then unsupervised rose from 32% in 2017 to 43% in 2020.

Lara said an idea like this could support 740 full-time positions paying prevailing wages. Lara’s office has begun reaching out to local unions to potentially represent civilian flaggers, Universal Hub reported.

In 2008, Massachusetts became the last state in the nation to allow civilian flaggers instead of police on construction sites. A 2018 report by the Pioneer Institute, a government watchdog group, said the state was wasting millions of dollars every year by not creating a civilian reporting program that could be a viable alternative to police details, said reported WCVB.

The proposal will now go to a committee chaired by Councilor Kenzie Bok for consideration before a vote is taken.


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