Boston Police Captain Jason Hasson sat down with Patch editor David Ertischek recently to talk about crime trends in both West Roxbury and Roslindale, cop movies, and collaborating with other districts.
Patch: How long have you been captain of District E-5?
Hasson: I came her August 2006. Before that I was in Roxbury.
Patch: What areas does District E-5 cover?
Hasson: All of West Roxbury, basically half of Roslindale - everything coming down Hyde Park Avenue on the right side up to Poplar Street and then it follows Poplar, Beech, and Georgetown (in Hyde Park).
Patch: How do the Boston Police districts work together on the lines?
Hasson: We’re always collaborating. The lines are so obscured, obviously criminals don’t know lines. On a daily basis, we have multiple avenues of information sharing. Morning detectives have conference calls with the Boston Regional Information Center - BRIC. They share the info, develop and distribute an intelligence sheet for every day. The BRIC daily bulletin. They talk about different people - folks wanted for certain things in the last days.
There's an informal meeting with detectives of E-5. They call each other, talk about different possible suspects, go have coffee and talk issues, and collaborate on trends and see where they map.
The drug control unit is covering both E-5/E-18 – I think E-18 will get a new squad reinstated (due to funding). E-13 has their own squad and collaborates with other squads for search warrants to ensure safety for everyone.
We collaborate with Dedham and Brookline, and have good relationshops with them... We really try to work with everybody. All these communities, the people within them are so close to other communities. It’s nothing for folks to go down Route 1 or Dedham. It’s a very transient populace.
Patch: How about working with Massachusetts State Police?
Hasson: Boston and State Police work together regularly and well together. Especially in the Parkway with the VFW Parkway and West Roxbury Parkway, Bellevue Hill, some roads fall under State Police jurisdiction. We're constantly discussing issues and collaborating.
Patch: Did you see 'The Town'? Did you like it?
Hasson: I thoroughly enjoyed it. But any movies with scenes of Boston I enjoy it right off the bat. Some people in the movie I personally know. Some of the actors and officers. My favorite scene when the gunmen stops and the officer is sitting in the car. They stare each other down, and he looks away. That was quite comical. Obviously Hollywood because Boston cops wouldn’t do that. I personally know him. He didn't tell me he was in the movie. I almost fell off my chair.
Patch: What is the most common crime in Roslindale?
Hasson: B&E (breaking and entering) into motor vehicles. Maybe larceny shoplifting.
Patch: How about West Roxbury?
Hasson: The same.
Patch: How can residents protect themselves?
Hasson: Be more protective of their personal valuable items. Don’t leave items in the yard because people come by and grab them. Specifically for B&E motor vehicles take out any valuables. Don’t leave any attractive items in your car and lock your car doors. But people don’t do that, they leave valuable items, it’s quite lucrative. If you leave your purse on the front seat - it only takes a minute for someone to enter your vehicle take your iPad, change in the cup holder. That's $8 to $10 for 30 seconds of works to open a door and grab change, you do that in 10 cars in less than five minutes and you made $80 and whatever else you can find; Glasses, iPads, GPS, purses. It’s easy to get complacent because it’s very quiet and there isn’t really a lot of crime here. We want to minimize the opportunity as it’s a crime of opportunity. People can affect the opportunity and protect themselves from these petty crimes.
Patch: Has crime gone up or down in Roslindale in recent years?
Hasson: We’ve had ups and downs. Overall, it’s been going down. This year here we’re actually down as well.
Patch: How about West Roxbury?
Hasson: I think crime has gone down district-wide over the years. If I had one single thing I could pinpoint and identify I’d write a book and mass produce it. I don’t think it’s one single factor. Collaboration with the community, watching trends in society, people are more proactive, and we have more officers interacting with community getting out of their cars and talking to people to break down the barriers.
In lower Roslindale we have officers on bicycles. There are multiple factors adding into a positive trend.
Patch: There’s always an issue with parking on Centre Street in West Roxbury, what does your department do to curb parking issues?
Hasson: It’s a matter of perspective. I don’t think it’s that big of an issue. I don’t think ours is larger than any other business district. We work with BTD (Boston Transportation Department). They have traffic supervisors out there monitoring that, and we basically tend to focus on more blatant infractions like handicapped ramps and fire hydrants. I don’t think parking is a big issue.
(District E-5 performed) Operation Crosswalk to try to target people not stopping for those in crosswalks. There were some written and verbal warnings, as well as fines. We have increased that. In West Roxbury, some may say it doesn’t appear that way. We are pursuing that issue to keep our pedestrians safe.
Patch: Would you recommend staying away from telling someone they are parked illegally? What is the right thing to do if you see someone parked illegally?
Hasson: That depends, I wouldn’t advocate people starting to enforce laws or regulations. If they want to give someone a friendly reminder, in the friendliest, friendliest way they can. Some people might take exception. I would say this – if it’s really that blatant and annoying call 911 and save yourself the trouble. Let us be the enforcers and the bad boys or girls. If I’m hearing from the community that it is an issue, I let the community set the standard.
If I hear a lot of complaints about people parking illegally then I will step up our enforcement. But I haven’t heard that… we’d prefer people observe the laws… if you’re blocking someone in, or slowing traffic down, we will definitely enforce that. I’m not giving anyone the right to double-park. We’ve given plenty of tickets for double-parking. The brunt of enforcement is by BTD.
Patch: What's with the CVS parking lot in Roslindale with drug busts? What can we do to stop that?
Hasson: That area is not atypical. It’s not that unusual there is that kind of business and amount of people coming and going. It's not too odd to become a meeting place and go to another place. It's a relatively easy landmark within in E-5. Close to the suburbs. We get a lot of (people from the) suburbs coming in and making a meet-and-greet with whoever. And then they’ll go somewhere else. It's the nature of a high profile location with lots of people coming and going. Officers are up there and doing a great job.
It's similar to the South Shore Plaza. Places that are easily accessible with people coming and going. Those are great places for people to engage in the drug trade. Not so much in Brookline, because it’s serous upscale. Not Chestnut Hill, that’s more upscale.
Patch: Should folks be worried?
Hasson: Generally, no. Generally the people who meet there do go to other places. They use it as a meeting place then try to do an exchange in other areas. They’ll meet there and go down Enneking Parkway, or remote locations in West Roxbury and Roslindale. My officers pick them up, as they are skilled in knowing what’s consistent of drug activities. They’ll follow them to the locations where they make the purchase and then move in and arrest them.
If anybody sees any suspicious activity please call the drug hotline at 617-343-4576.
Patch: Anything else?
Hasson: We’re having our Roslindale Parade (October 14) – it’s a wonderful community event, for both West Roxbury and Roslindale. So many good things are happening here. I think that helps with the downward trend of crime with community involvement. The renovation of the Washington-Beech (complex) We’re not getting plagued with problem properties like in other parts of the city. Contractors pick them up right away. We’re very fortunate around E-5. The biggest thing I’d like to ask people - just keep an eye out for each other and lock your car doors and don’t leave valuables in your car. If you have any issue at all please feel free to call me at 617-343-4565 and I’ll be willing to do the very best. I can’t guarantee I’ll straighten out your problem. But I’ll do my best.