Community Police & Fire

Christopher Columbus Park Gets “Directed Patrols” Along With Other Parks Regarding Homeless Issues

Tot Lot at Christopher Columbus Park (Photo by Matt Conti)

In response to a previously reported homeless encampment at the Tot Lot of Christopher Columbus Park, the Friends group and Boston Police have provided the following updates. (See also: Friends of Christopher Columbus Park Letter Details Homeless Playground Incident; Requests Bodily Fluids Protocol). Notice in the second message from Sgt. Lema that several parks are on the “Directed Patrols” list.

Dear Friends,
In response to the 911 calls that you’ve made about homeless people sleeping in the park and tot lot, Sgt. Tom Lema of the Boston Police Department informs me that he has ordered “directed patrols,” which means that during each 8 hour shift, a unit will be ordered to patrol the park.  As far as I know, this is the first time this has happened and it’s in response to our community’s efforts.

I was in the park at 6:15 this morning and the tot lot area looked clear until I walked inside to see if debris was under the equipment.  There was a man wedged in between the tunnels, invisible from the sidewalk and even hard to see when standing just a few feet away.  I called 911 and the Mayor’s Hotline (617-635-4500).  Police responded in less than 20 minutes and had the man leave.  They also rousted a sleeper in the rose garden.

So, please keep up the calls and the vigilance.  It’s heartening to all of us who work so hard on the park and the events in the park to have such wonderful support.

(President, Friends of Christopher Columbus Park,

P.S. – While in the Tot Lot this morning, the sprinklers went on.  One sprinkler head shot water directly under the equipment and would have made a puddle except that the sprinkler repair guy was there at the same time and turned it to spray in the opposite direction.  While this may have been the source of the puddles found in the last few weeks, it does not decrease the need for care in this and all public playgrounds to which you take your children.  We’ll eliminate the homeless issue but sanitation is always a challenge … there was also a soiled diaper on one of the benches so it’s not just the homeless who are unsanitary.


Follow up from Sgt. Thomas Lema, District A-1:
We have directed patrols to address homeless issues at the following locations on District A-1:
Steriti Memorial Rink, Langone Park, DeFilippo Park, Christopher Columbus Park, Copp’s Hill, Long Wharf, New England Aquarium, Custom House, Central Street, Causeway Street, Rose Kennedy Greenway, Pagoda Park, Mary Soo Hoo Chinatown Park, Boston Common, Public Gardens, 250 Cambridge Street, Thoreau Path, Paul Revere Park, 125 Tremont Street, 55 & 125 Summer Street, Filene’s Park, Union Street, Phillips Street Park, South Street, numerous ATM bank vestibules, and many other locations that homeless people frequent from time to time. Homeless issues can move from one location to another location.

Our officers along with the Pine Street Inn Outreach Van will continue to check Christopher Columbus Park in order to address the homeless issues. We are not on scene in the park 24/7. As I have said at community meetings throughout the eleven neighborhoods that we patrol, our constituents are the eyes and ears for us. Residents see things everyday in their neighborhoods. Some might be of a criminal nature, a quality of life issue, or another matter that requires city services. I regularly receive telephone calls and e-mails from our constituents as new issues arise in each neighborhood. We also are working closely with the personnel from the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department under Commissioner Toni Pollak who contact us on police related matters that occur in our parks.

Most importantly, continue to call 9-1-1 which brings police resources into the area. People who breaks the rules and/or exhibit bad behavior will get the message that the neighborhood residents are not only paying attention to their negative actions but they are also calling the police via 9-1-1. Hopefully, negative actions and bad behavior in the park will turn into good behavior and positive actions or those people move on from the area. It is the police officers’ duty to address these matters as they arise.

Part of our everyday duties is to protect and service homeless people who are in need. Hopefully, many will seek out the many services that are offered to the homeless such as shelters, hospitals, detox programs, job placement, mental health clinics and other city service programs through the City of Boston Emergency Shelter Commission under Director Jim Greene. There are more than 6,000 homeless people in and around our city. Homelessness is a societal problem that requires many forms of attention.

Sgt Tom Lema