This article was first printed in the North End Regional Review and re-published here with permission.
Chuck Wilson feels right at home in his position of lieutenant detective commander at the Boston Police Department Area A-1 headquarters on New Sudbury Street.
That’s because Wilson grew up just a stone’s throw away in the North End and still has family and boyhood friends living in the internationally renowned neighborhood of Boston that is visited often for its historical landmarks and superb restaurants.
“I grew up on North Street and spent my later days as a teenager and into adulthood on Fulton Street,” said Wilson. “My wife, Jamie, works in the North End for Elite Boston Landmark Realty on Commercial Street. And my mother, Elaine Wilson, was the first director of the North End Health Center. She and others started the North End Nursing Home so my mother is very well known and respected in the community.”
Chuck Wilson attended St. John’s Grammar School in the North End and Malden Catholic High School, graduating in 1978. He attended UMass/Boston for his undergraduate work and received a graduate degree from UMass/Lowell. He received his Doctorate in Law and Policy in 2007 from Northeastern University and has been an adjunct professor at Boston University Metropolitan College in Charlestown and UMass/Lowell.
“I would say the advanced degrees have helped in my police career,” said the lieutenant, who humbly eschews his officially earned title of “Dr. Charles Wilson” for “Chuck.”
Wilson commands a bureau of 20 detectives in Area A-1, a bustling part of the state’s capital city that consists of the downtown district and Charlestown. The state’s largest indoor arena, the TD Garden, home to the Celtics and Bruins, concerts and other events, is in the district.
“It is one of busiest districts in the city,” said Wilson. “The area draws people from outside of Boston. The residential population isn’t that staggering but at any given time you can have a half million people in the City of Boston whether they’re working here or coming in for dinner or the nightclubs. The area is in interesting mix of residential concerns and problems with the concerns that are more transient in nature.”
That divergence of preserving the peace and quiet for North End residents and providing a safe and enjoyable environment for nighttime business patrons can be challenging at times
“We try to respond and support both sides but when there’s a strong conflict, typically we side on the side of the community,” said Wilson. “When there is a big residential concern about noise or fights or problems, we tend to represent the residents just because their quality of life is impacted. But we do have good working relationships throughout the district. I work hard to maintain those partnerships.”
Wilson has risen through the ranks during a distinguished 32-year career in the department. He was a police cadet in 1979 and at the age of 23, he was asked to join the drug control unit, becoming the youngest detective in the BPD.
“I think I just caught a break because at the time there weren’t a lot of young police officers,” said Wilson. “The average age of a police officer in 1985 was over 50 years old so they were looking to beef up the drug control unit and needed younger guys to do undercover work.”
Wilson served as a detective for 17 years, earned promotions to sergeant and lieutenant before returning to the detective bureau. He has served for the last five years as commander of the Area-1 detective division.
With several relatives still living in the North End, Wilson holds the safety and well being of his old neighborhood close to his heart.
“My constituents are in the North End and I’m always keen to responding to incidents there,” said Wilson. “In my opinion the North End is the safest neighborhood in the city. For me, it’s imperative that it stays that way so if there’s any type of a trending incident that’s occurring we try to jump on it right away. I make it a point to make sure that resources are available to the North End/waterfront area.”
He enjoys visiting his old neighborhood with his three daughters and granddaughter.
“My daughters grew up outside the North End but they really like the area,” said Wilson. “I think they wish I were still living there.”
Asked to name his favorite North End restaurant, he began to list several establishments but refrained from citing his top choice.
“I go there regularly to eat,” said Wilson. “The restaurants are great and I love the food but if I plug one restaurant, I’ll have four people mad at me.”