Acting Boston mayor signs ordinance limiting use of tear gas

May 13, 2021 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — Acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey signed into law a city ordinance Thursday that limits how police use tear gas and other crowd-control techniques.

The measure, approved by the Boston City Council last month on a 7-5 vote, restricts the use of chemical crowd control agents and kinetic impact projectiles by law enforcement agents operating in Boston.

Under the ordinance, a police supervisor must approve their use and give warnings in advance. The new rules apply to individuals engaging in protests, demonstration, or gathering with more than 10 people.

The limits apply to tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and beanbag rounds.

“Indiscriminate use of these devices is dangerous and unacceptable. Proud to sign this ordinance into law for the protection of Boston residents,” Janey said Thursday in a tweet.

A similar initiative was approved by the council last year by a 8-5 vote, but was rejected by former Mayor Marty Walsh.


Janey, who was city council president at the time, voted for the measure. Walsh resigned earlier this month to become President Joe Biden’s labor secretary. As city council president, Janey became acting mayor.

Two city councilors who voted in favor of the measure, Andrea Campbell and Michelle Wu, are running for mayor in the fall. Another councilor running for mayor, Annissa Essaibi George, voted against the measure. Janey is also running.

Under the ordinance, an on-scene police supervisor of the rank of deputy superintendent or higher must personally witness ongoing violence or property destruction and determine there are no reasonable methods of de-escalation that could succeed.

The same supervisor must give two separate warnings at least two minutes apart announcing the group must disperse, saying which weapon will be used and ensuring the group has a way to exit.

The ordinance also requires the Boston Police Department to preserve body camera footage when the measures are used.