Overlapping police jurisdictions in the current Casey Overpass area are already a longstanding issue that lowers law enforcement and frustrates residents trying to call for help. With the forthcoming Casey Arborway, plans to simply expand those overlaps are inadequate and amount to jurisdiction as fiction.
Today’s Forest Hills nexus of the Arborway and Washington and South streets includes—on paper—city streets patrolled by the Boston Police, the T station patrolled by MBTA Transit Police, and the Arborway and Southwest Corridor Park patrolled by the State Police.
In reality, only BPD does regular patrols as we imagine them. The T police and State Police are both perpetually short-staffed. The T police are visible at the station only during peak hours; State Police cruisers may drive on the overpass, but troopers are a non-presence in the park. Nothing prevents BPD officers from chasing someone across the lines, but that is different from regular patrols.
Today’s overpass area already has its share of street crime. The new, surface-level Casey Arborway surely will increase foot traffic, which could bring a downside of increased crime. Imagining that State Police are going to patrol a busy new surface street network and a huge extension of the park is not credible. Someone reporting a suspicious incident should not get bounced among various police departments.
It is time to have an open conversation with police agencies about how best to handle this new area, and to look at such models as the Greenway downtown for clues.