Phones in parks help police track crime

The Franklin Park Coalition supports the blue pole emergency phones being installed in city parks (“Police park phone use unclear,” Oct. 19 JP Gazette). Franklin Park users repeatedly call 911 from their cell phones to report speeding motorbikes on the park landscape that are a danger to pedestrians, occasional drug deals and other illegal activity. When asked for a street address or the nearest intersection by a 911 operator, what can callers say? “I’m at the corner of the dirt path and large oak?”

The combination of an unclear location with a not-so-serious crime means that police rarely respond to calls. The blue emergency phones go right to 911 and police know from exactly where they have been called. We hope police will find it easier to respond and address the myriad “quality of life” crimes that are common in parks. Because cell phone calls from a park cannot be tracked by address, they are often not reflected in 911 data. Franklin Park users have given up trying to contact police.

Like Gerry Wright of the Jamaica Pond Project, we want more Park Rangers in our parks preventing crime. Yet, like the presence of Rangers, park users in Franklin Park have said the blue emergency phones offer a feeling of safety; they can call for help quickly should they need it. Currently, there are three phones installed or planned for Franklin Park. The Franklin Park Coalition has a few additional locations where they would like phones to be located—and we will keep fighting for more Park Rangers patrolling this 527-acre park.

Christine Poff
Director, Franklin Park Coalition
Jamaica Plain

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