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Letter: An Update on Crime from Police Captain Hasson

Call 911 to report crimes - as residents are the eyes and ears of the community. "In situations where we need to develop long-term strategies or issues that are not emergencies, by calling the community service office at 617-343-4564."

Dear Residents,

is entering the fall season with an overall crime reduction of 7%. Although crime on the whole has decreased, there were increases in homicides and residential burglaries during the past two months. Our officers have been both proactive and reactive to the crimes that occurred during the summer months. They are continuously patrolling assigned areas, meeting with residents, and creating opportunities for citizens to interact positively with the police department. 

One particular avenue that allows the department to interact regularly with residents is through crime watch groups. These groups are formed by community members and consist of neighbors who meet monthly or quarterly with E5 officers, Mayor Menino’s liaisons, and aids to the city councilor’s to communicate any new or ongoing issues pertinent to District E5. Just recently a member of a local Roslindale Crime Watch Group observed an individual on their neighbors’ property and called 9-1-1 to report the suspicious behavior. They were able to give a description of the individual and their car and E5 officers were able to locate and stop the perpetrator. The officers found drugs on the individual and they were able to place the suspect under arrest. This incident conveys the importance of the relationships between the residents and the patrolling officers. The crime watch members are the eyes and ears of their community and since officers cannot possibly be where the crime is occurring every time a crime is taking place it’s important to have this communication with our residents. We stress to these groups, and the E5 community, that utilizing 9-1-1 is essential for the success of this communication.

Oftentimes citizens express that they don’t feel comfortable calling 9-1-1, but they shouldn’t. This is the system in place to notify or request police assistance in every case, particularly those of an urgent nature. You can also notify us, in situations where we need to develop long-term strategies or issues that are not emergencies, by calling the community service office at 617-343-4564. In cases where residents feel anxious about calling the police on neighbor(s) or dangerous people, or in any case (that is not an emergency) where they wish to remain anonymous they may contact the Boston Police Department through its Text a Tip program. This new function has revamped the city’s anonymous crime tip hotline by adding the ability for citizens to text message an anonymous tip to police. Users type the word “TIP” on their cell phones and send it to CRIME (27463). Follow up questions are typed in the interface and sent directly to the tipsters’ phone via SMS. Text-a-tip is 100% anonymous and there is no way of determining the user’s identity. Crime Stoppers takes the information and sends it to an investigator. Only the investigator sees the tip, it does not go out to the entire police department. The investigator is also unable to receive the tipster’s identity.

Lastly, phone anonymous drug tips you may call 617-343-4576 - when calling this drug tip line try to have as much detail as possible by taking particular note of the people involved, their vehicles, time of occurrence, and any thing else that may be helpful to the investigators. The officers receiving this message will not call you back, unless you leave your number and make such request, but will investigate your complaint.

As previously mentioned residential burglary has risen in the past few months. In the month of September, 14 reports were filed with District 5.  Most of the breaks occurred during the daytime when residents were at work. Several others took place in the evening when home owners were away on vacation. We’d like to offer some helpful tips to help you and your families keep your home safe. Please read the information below to help reduce your risk of becoming a target.

• Lock ALL of your doors and windows:
• Make sure to SHUT and LOCK all windows. Be aware that lower level windows with air conditioning units are easy targets.
• Windows that are shielded from view by shrubs or bushes (i.e. first floor and basement windows) are also considered weak spots. Make sure to keep these areas well lit and/or keep shrubbery trimmed to limit obscurity.
• Consider installing ALARMS on doors and windows that are most vulnerable.

• Providing adequate interior and exterior LIGHTING is important!
• Keep your yard and neighborhood well maintained! Doing so sends a message that “WE CARE!” A deteriorating street sends a message that no one is watching out for the well being of the neighborhood.
• Spend time out on your street: shovel, sit outside on the porch, garden and do yard work—this is valuable for overall neighborhood safety! You get to know who lives around you, it allows an opportunity to share information, and you create a watchful presence.
• Make sure to clean up your tools and valuable items. Things can be stolen if not stored properly; and tools such as ladders could be used by thieves to enter your home.
• Do not display packaging of expensive items in your trash. It may cause thieves to target your home.
• With neighbors’ assistance, make sure street lights, vacant lots, and other common areas on your street are well maintained.
• KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS!
• Start a Crime Watch Group and make sure you can contact neighbors when you need to.
• Leave a key with a trusted neighbor. NEVER under a mat.
• Arrange for mail and newspaper pick-up, snow removal, and grass mowing when away.

And please remember that if you’d like a safety check of your home, contact the Community Service Office at District 5. We would be happy to come to your home and offer tips to help keep you safe.

Motor vehicle larceny is a crime that is prevalent in our district, and we are happy to report that it has decreased by 35% in West Roxbury and Roslindale from January 1 to August 1 (in comparison to 2010 statistics). We can attribute this reduction not only to the arrests made by detectives, but also to the vigilance demonstrated by residents. Most crime can be prevented (not all), but taking precautionary steps allows individuals to reduce their likelihood of being targeted. Simple actions (which we highly recommend) such removing loose change, GPS systems, bags, sunglasses, sneakers, etc. from ones motor vehicle, parking in a well lit area, and using the car alarm can avert criminals from being attracted to your vehicle.  If there is nothing of value in the car, the car has no value to them.

We also ask residents be mindful that school is back in session, and therefore motor vehicle traffic has increased. With more cars on the road and school busses added to the morning and afternoon commutes it’s important for drivers to abide by the rules of the road.

Along with added cars, there are more pedestrians using crosswalks and children coming on and off busses. Remember to be respectful to those trying to cross the road and look out for younger children when in a school zone.  The VFW Parkway at West Roxbury High School, Dunkin Donuts near Catholic Memorial, and Roslindale square are all highly congested areas during the morning rush hour and again in the afternoon. Drivers must be cautious and courteous in these areas in order to prevent accidents and injuries. If you know of a location that could use traffic enforcement, let us know. We’d be happy to send a patrol car to check out the location.            

For District 5 to remain one of the safest places to live we ask for your corporation and we hope that you’ll partner with your neighbors to work with us in preventing crime.  Please be sure to join us for our on October 28, 2011 at E5 from 5-8 p.m. This is a wonderful community event that not only serves as a fun time for our youth, but a way for adults to get to know their neighbors and meet some of the officers who work within the community.

Thank you and stay safe,

Captain James Hasson

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