This is a first-hand report from the Public Safety meeting held at the Nazzaro Center on January 7, 2010, sponsored by NEWNC and the Boston Police.
Attending the meeting was NEWNC Public Safety Committee Chair, Bob DeCristoforo, Boston Police Captain Bernard O’Rourke, Sergeant Tom Lema and Officer Teddy Boyle. State Representative Aaron Michlewitz was also present along with Nicole Leo from the Mayor’s office and Kathy Carangelo-McIsaac from Councilor LaMattina’s office.
Attendance was high at the monthly meeting due largely to last week’s sexual assault in the courtyard outside the Nazzaro Center. (Details on the attack can be found at this article: North End Assault Outside Nazzaro Center.)
The police have little new additional information to report on the Nazzaro Center courtyard attack. They noted that it has been labeled a sex offense so many of the details have been classified. The investigation is ongoing and patrols have been increased in the area. Importantly, Captain O’Rourke said, the “neighborhood is safe” and he does not believe this is a serial attacker.
It was asked whether there are registered sex offenders living in public housing at Ausonia Apartments. The police have checked and said those rumors are false. The Mayor’s office also reported that sex offenders cannot live in public housing. Police reported that most of the issues at that location are regarding alcohol and drug use, although there have been no problems recently. The police regularly meet with the managers of the property.
Captain O’Rourke said he was actually more concerned about the 2 armed robberies in December. On December 26, 2009, the Hanover Street 7-Eleven was robbed at knife-point and an older couple walking on Fulton Street was confronted at gunpoint on December 13th. Victims in both incidents were not harmed, other than a superficial wound on the women’s shoe from a shot fired on Fulton Street. Officers have recovered a shell casing and hope to get a gun print.
An important break was reported in the 7-Eleven robbery where the Police have identified the suspect and issued a warrant. The suspect dropped a phone which led to an ID and warrant for a South Boston resident.
In answer to a question, the police confirmed that anyone can carry mace or pepper spray, but residents need a license to carry a gun. Police also reported their staffing levels are near all-time highs in the city and they believe they have the manpower to keep the neighborhood safe.
The Captain noted that convenience store robberies were on the rise in the City with the most severe having recently occured in Jamaica Plain where a clerk was murdered. With over 6 convenience store robberies in December, the police are concerned a pattern has developed.
On the traffic side, the police towed 9 vehicles in December, gave out 95 moving citations and 319 parking tickets.
A review of 2009 crime statistics showed a 12% decrease in Boston crime and a 5% decrease in North End incidents. The North End showed decreases in all categories except for car break-ins. Larcenies from car breaks saw a spike earlier in the year but have recently decreased. Police continue to warn residents not to leave GPS, laptops or other valuables in sight in their cars.
A resident reported someone posing as a police officer trying to get in her building. Police said to ask for a police ID, not just a badge. A Salem Street resident reported a man bothering her at 6am in the morning as she exits her building when he asks for her money.
Bob DeCristoforo encouraged residents to call the hotline (617-635-4500) to report dark street lights since a number of alleys and streets are very dark. He also asks the neighborhood youths to stop throwing snowballs at taxi drivers. It was also recommended that building owners put address numbers on their properties so the police can quickly respond when there is a problem reported.
With students on break, there have been no late-night party incidents since December 6th.
An attendee asked about Nick’s Deli advertising a 2am license. The Mayor’s office indicated it was a temporary license. A neighbor reported that 10 abutting families have hired legal counsel to challenge late-night licenses in the Cross Street area. The police said they have talked to management at the deli and reported that it is closing most nights at 9pm-10pm. Abutters are concerned that the area becomes a late-night street hangout and police said they will monitor the situation. State Representative Michlewitz indicated that a neighborhood meeting regarding a new Cross Street layout would be scheduled for February.
In answer to a question about live entertainment, the Police indicated that Patricia Malone in Licensing at City Hall will put conditions on any upcoming live entertainment licenses in the North End, including an 11pm stop, 2 musician limit, no floor show and closed windows.
As always, Boston Police encourage residents to use 911 or 617-343-4911 (A-1 Boston) which has recently expanded lines. They said 911 is faster and Boston residents get patched to them within 15-20 seconds.
The neighborhood public safety meetings are held the first Thursday of every month. The meeting is open to the public.