The announcement this week by Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins that her office will be expanding the database (often referred to as LEAD) that is comprised of law enforcement personnel whose prior conduct could impact their credibility as witnesses in a court proceeding comes as welcome news to every citizen in the Commonwealth.
The LEAD (Law Enforcement Automatic Discovery) database includes officers who have had incidents of untruthfulness, criminal convictions, candor issues, or some other type of issue reflecting on their ability to perform their job impartially, including discriminatory or defamatory actions, language or conduct targeting any protected category or class, based on race; color; religious creed; national origin; immigration status; sex; gender identity; sexual orientation; pregnancy; ancestry; or status as a veteran.
Although the LEAD database has been in existence for a while, Rollins has expanded it with the addition of 115 officers to a new total of 136 names of law enforcement officers who work, have worked, or could work in Suffolk County.
The list includes former police officers in the cities of Boston, Revere, and Chelsea, as well as MBTA police and Massachusetts State Troopers.
We hasten to point out that the expansion of the LEAD database should not be seen as a reflection that in any way casts doubt upon the basic honesty and integrity of those who work in our police departments.
Even though a total of 136 officers (most of whom have resigned or retired) may seem like a large figure, it represents only a small fraction of the overwhelming majority of our men and women who wear a badge and who do their job, day-in and day-out, protecting our citizenry with honor, dignity, and compassion.
The criminal justice system is imperfect, even under the best of circumstances, for everybody involved, victims and defendants alike.
We applaud District Attorney Rollins for taking this step to ensure that every citizen of our state — not merely Suffolk County residents — receive a fair trial, which is an essential cornerstone of our democracy.