On Thursday, May 2, Curtis Hall in Jamaica Plain hosted the monthly police and community relations meeting organized by District E-13 of the Boston Police Department (BPD).
Every month, Officer William Jones from the Community Service Office and Captain John Greland use this meeting to update the community about local crime statistics from the previous month. They also take the opportunity to provide common sense advice for how to prevent crime in Jamaica Plain and to answer questions from community members. Also invited to these meetings are officials from MBTA’s Transit Police and Massachusetts State Police.
As usual, Officer Jones provided copies of a chart comparing the year-to-date Part One crime statistics from 2019 with those from 2018. Part One crimes are those that are more serious in nature, and do not include lesser crimes such as vandalism, drug dealing or possession of firearms.
In order to better interpret the Part One crime statistics, it’s important to know the difference between robbery, burglary and larceny. Robbery, also called mugging, is the taking of someone’s property directly from that person and involves intimidation or force. Burglary, also known as breaking and entering (or B&E in law enforcement slang), is unlawfully accessing a building with the intent to commit theft. Larceny deprives someone of their property but it doesn’t include force (like robbery) or breaking and entering (like burglary.) An example of larceny would be shoplifting, stealing items out of a car or picking someone’s pocket on a crowded subway train.
According to Officer Jones’ chart, so far in 2019 there were 214 reported Part One crimes in Jamaica Plain, up from 212 this time last year, an increase of 2%. Crimes that saw an uptick in 2019 included homicide, domestic aggravated assault and residential burglary. Crimes that have seen a decrease so far in 2019 compared to the same time period in 2018 included robbery and attempted, non-domestic aggravated assault, commercial burglary, motor vehicle larceny, other larceny and auto theft. Crimes that saw no change from one year to the next were rape or attempted rape and other burglary.
Officer Jones also provided a comprehensive list of the individual Part One crimes reported in the area the previous month, including the date, time and location of each incident. According to a map provided by Officer Jones, eighty-six percent of these crimes took place in the northeast corner of Jamaica Plain, in the areas surrounding Egleston and Jackson Squares.
According to this list, the month of April saw seven burglaries (down from nine in March), three robberies (down from four in March), seven aggravated assaults (down from 15 in March), one motor vehicle theft (up from zero in March), and 36 larcenies (down from 45 in March). There were no reported incidents of rape, arson, kidnapping or murder in April.
On his handouts, Officer Jones writes notes next to the major incidents, adding more context and detail than is available online. For example, we know that three of the aggravated assaults involved the victim being shot or shot at. These assaults occurred at 98 Heath Street, 34 Gay Head Street and 57 Horan Way.
“With aggravated assaults most times our experience shows us that there is a relationship between victim and suspect. Owed money, drug deal gone bad, argument over girlfriend,” Officer Jones told the Gazette. “We do get random incidents that happen, but that’s a smaller percentage.”
However, he did acknowledge that gang violence can be random and innocent bystanders can fall victim. He also warned that violent crime tends to spike in the warmer months.
“We do see upticks in crime,” said Officer Jones, adding that the city has worked hard to create jobs programs for youths in order to keep them out of gangs when school is not in session.
“Our best advice is to get people thinking about crime as an opportunity and to collectively participate in removing as many opportunities as possible,” he continued. “People need to have a heightened sense of awareness when living their lives. Pay attention to things that don’t look or feel right and never hesitate to call 9-1-1 when the hairs on the back of the neck go up.”
The police and community relations meeting is on the first Thursday of every month at 6:30pm at Curtis Hall at 20 South Street. The next meeting is Thursday, May 2. A Spanish language version of this meeting is also held on the second Thursday of every month at 6:30pm at 155 Lamartine Street. The next Spanish-language meeting is Thursday, June 6. These meetings are open to the public and all interested residents are encouraged to attend.