Real life is butting up against campaign rhetoric as Boston Mayor-elect Michelle Wu deals with a spate of attacks on police officers and violence against school teachers.
Police reform — one of the cornerstones of Wu’s campaign — could be in doubt because of the increased violence directed at cops.
Wu now has to juggle her vow to reform the police department and cut its budget while also showing support for the wounded officers.
“What is your message to people who think it’s okay to shoot a police officer?” a reporter bluntly asked Wu on Wednesday.
“I mean would push back on the frame of that question,” Wu replied. “We are sitting where every person is part of the community.”
That somewhat bungled answer shows what a tough balancing act Wu faces when cops and teachers are under attack.
Wu, who was elected in a landslide, did put out a statement and visited the wounded officers in the hospital — a bare minimum duty all mayors must perform.
Showing up at scenes of shootings was something previous mayors, Ray Flynn, the late Thomas Menino and Marty Walsh, mastered. Boston residents have become accustomed to a hands-on mayor standing by cops and firefighters.
But it was easier for them — they were considered supporters of the police.
Wu doesn’t yet have the trust of police, especially after she endorsed a 10% cut in police overtime and regular budgets.
While she stayed away from terms like “defund the police” she also spoke often of the need to reform the troubled department, which has been without a commissioner for months.
And even after a school principal was attacked and punched by a student, Wu restated her vow to keep police and other public safety measures like metal detectors out of the schools.
One of Wu’s first assignments will be to find a new police commissioner and that should tell a lot about the way she’s going to approach public safety.
If she appoints a law and order commissioner progressives who got Wu elected will view it as a betrayal.
And if she reneges on cutting the police budget, Wu’s honeymoon with liberals may be over quickly.
But if she does move to cut the police budget, that could be unpopular with besieged residents who want more police presence on the streets.
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