August 23, 2007 — Vol. 43, No. 2
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More cops to walk beats as part of ‘Safe Street’ initiative

Banner Staff

Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis announced on Tuesday the expansion of the “Safe Street Team” initiative.

The expansion of the walking beat program is the latest community policing effort focused on a proactive and preventative crime reduction strategy. According to a prepared statement, nine new Safe Street Teams will be deployed immediately in areas experiencing violent crime and disorder.

“The expansion of this program is an important strategy to decrease the crime rate and improve police-community relations,” Menino said in the prepared statement. “I support the police commissioner’s commitment to community policing and am proud of the work performance and dedication demonstrated by our officers every day.”

 As it is now, three teams comprised of six officers each have been deployed for six months in areas including Downtown, Grove Hall and Bowdoin-Geneva.

A Boston Police Department sergeant directs each team, whose walking beats cover several city blocks. Part of their assignment is making meaningful connections with neighborhood residents.

“Mayor Menino and I are committed to implementing strategies that reinforce our dedication to community policing,” said Davis. “I am confident that this initiative is an effective way for Boston police officers to continue to strengthen ties with our communities, address quality of life issues and deter crime.”

“Walking beats gets police officers out of cruisers and back into the neighborhoods,” Davis added. “They allow officers to meet residents, speak with them, hear their concerns and develop a consensus on behavior for a neighborhood.”

Safe Street Teams allow officers to have sustained contact with business owners and families and provide a valuable opportunity to address quality of life issues affecting local residents.

The sergeants for each team determine whether their team each night will walk the beat or use bicycles. Each Safe Street Team is considered a long-term assignment.

In addition to the existing three teams, nine new teams will cover the following geographic areas: Eagle Hill in District A-7, East Boston; two teams in Codman Square in District B-3, covering Mattapan and Dorchester; Morton Ave and Blue Hill Avenue, also in District B-3; Egleston Square in District E-13, Jamaica Plain; Blue Hill/Talbot Avenue/Franklin Field in District B-3; Lenox/1850 Washington in District D-4, the South End; Dudley/Orchard Park in District B-2, Roxbury; and an extra team will be added to Downtown Crossing/Boston Common/Theater District, in District A-1, Downtown.

According to the statement, identifying locations is a data-driven decision. Working closely with the intelligence unit and district commanders, geographic areas were chosen based upon concerns related to violent crime over periods of time.

Placing walking beats in these areas leads officers to develop a sense of ownership, and engage in strategic problem-solving, sustained presence and guardianship, the release stated.

In addition, officers walking beats develop other competent guardians, such as local businesses owners and community members, who assist in enforcing safety standards.

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