This was the third month in a row (#1 and #2) where a large number of residents showed up to complain about a lack of police response to noise, partying and quality of life crime issues in the North End. This was also the third meeting for Captain Lee, new to District A-1, who took the role after the St. Patrick’s Day debacle that coincided with a resident uproar in the North End. The public meeting took place on June 7, 2012 at the Nazzaro Community Center.
A reported a robbery in progress of a wheelchair taken from Salem & Cooper Streets received no police response two Saturdays ago around 1:45 am, according to resident Marie Montemorano. By the time a police dispatcher called back, the situation was resolved as neighbors searched and found the wheelchair near North Station. Marie has repeatedly argued in meetings that Mayor Menino and City Hall are not dedicating enough police resources to the city neighborhoods.
Another incident questioned at the meeting was whether the property owner at 181 Endicott Street was cited regarding an alleged party incident over Memorial Day weekend. BPD and Boston Fire responded to a man passed out on the street. Sgt. Lema reported that the young man had been drinking with friends. When the officers questioned the group, they did not identify an address but instead said they were walking toward a cab. Captain Lee reminded the audience that being drunk is not a crime, although it is a medical situation.
Additional complaints registered at the meeting:
- At 15 Thacher St., Dom Piso reported a late night roofdeck party with a young man urinating off the deck.
- A neighbor also identified 136 Prince St. as a roofdeck party problem where multiple gas grills are illegally in place.
- A Mercantile Wharf resident complained of “loud kids screaming in the streets” and throwing trash containers after coming out of Tia’s and the Living Room.
- Illegal activity is occurring in the N. Bennet St. playground, according to a resident. The park is supposed to be closed at dusk.
- A resident at 61 Prince Street gave the police credit for resolving a recurring loud party situation.
The promised increase in police presence after St. Patrick’s Day has dwindled in recent weeks, according to resident and business owner Jorge Mendoza. “If there were more police patrolling the neighborhood, a lot of this would be more manageable,” he said.
Sgt. Lema tried to put the complaints in perspective. “These are quality of life issues” as compared to other neighborhoods with more violent crime. “We understand you are tired of the noise. You have delivered the message,” he continued. “I throw myself under the bus. Before St. Patrick’s Day, the same 8 people came to these meetings.” (Ed: That includes me, having reported on these monthly public safety meetings since 2009.) Lema continued to ask residents to call 911 to record loud parties and street incidents. There were 16 loud party calls made in the month of May 2012.
Ironically, the reported crime statistics show a relatively low number of “real” crime incidents. In the last 30 days ending June 7, 2012, there were 2 robberies, 1 break-in, 3 auto thefts and 3 larcenies. Compared to last year, the number of break-ins was down from 14 to 1 and the reports of larcenies also plummeted from 13 to 3. There were no arrests made in the North End during the past month.
Dom Piso summed up the quality of life situation by telling Boston Police, “We know it will never be perfect, but we would like to have it better.”
After the regular Public Safety meeting, Carolyn MacNeil, BPD Neighborhood Watch representative and North End resident Brian Brandt reviewed the basics of setting up a resident crime watch for the North End.
There were several questions about the roll of such a watch and some objected to having residents doing police work. Others thought a crime watch was a step in the right direction to get more eyes and ears on the streets. More information regarding the formation of an online communication forum is expected in the coming weeks.