When District E-13 Police Capt. Alfredo Andres joined the Boston Police Department in 1995, he said, there was a culture of cops and robbers.
But as he rose in the ranks and the philosophy of community policing began permeating the police force, Andres said he witnessed the benefits of interacting with the community.
“I saw how important relationships with the community are. Locking up offenders is just one part. They are eventually going to come back out into the community,” said Andres, who took over in January at District E-13, which is located at 3345 Washington St.
He said that the police and the community working together is “how to solve problems.” Andres said that Jamaica Plain has many groups, such as the monthly crime watch meeting, that help people get involved.
Andres said if members of the community come to him about a certain area having a drug problem or cars speeding through a red light, he can do something about it. And if it is not in his realm, he said can direct it to the proper place, such as the Inspectional Services Department or the Public Works Department, so that the problem can be fixed.
Andres said that his goals as the District E-13 leader are to continue the work of his predecessor, Capt. Paul Russell. He said Russell worked well with the community and oversaw a reduction of crime. He said he wants to make sure residents are safe and able to enjoy the assets of the neighborhood, such as Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Pond or Egleston Square.
“I want to keep things in order,” he said.
Andres is a product of JP, having moved to Hyde Square from Cuba via Miami in the early 1970s when he was a child. He said that there was a much bigger Latino population back then, especially Cubans. Andres said there were also many vacant lots and boarded-up houses compared to the constant construction that is happening now.
He never thought about being a police officer growing up, said Andres. But when he graduated Jamaica Plain High School, a U.S. Army recruiter enticed him into service, and he was soon at Fort Benning in Georgia. Andres said the military structure “really worked for me” and that he “got a lot out of it.”
When Andres left the service, his cousin talked him into becoming a prison guard on Deer Island, where he served for several years and was promoted to sergeant. While there, another guard joined the BPD and said it was a great job, said Andres. That led him to take the police exam and he eventually joined the BPD in 1995 after serving two years as a transit cop.
Andres was stationed in various areas of the city as he rose through the ranks before being appointed deputy superintendent in 2009 by then Police Commissioner Ed Davis. He said in that position he worked on a bunch of different projects, such as working with the City’s Safe Street teams and helping with the Mother’s Day Walk for Peace.
A year later, Andres became the head of labor relations for BPD. He said that position was “very interesting,” as he was involved in last year’s contract talks and learned about the Fair Labor Standards Act and other labor issues.
While Andres was serving in the police hierarchy, he became a captain in 2012, the first Latino to do so. He said it is a “great honor” to break that barrier, but added, “I don’t want to be the only one.”
And being a Latino captain of JP has paid dividends. Andres said when he was at an E-13 monthly Latino meeting, attendees remarked that it was the first time they could speak in their native tongue.
“That meant a lot to them. That meant a lot to me,” he said.