The Subcommittee on Police Procedures, which is a part of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council’s (JPNC) Public Service Committee, held a second public listening session on December 16, where residents were invited to share ideas and concerns about police in the neighborhood.
Several residents came out to express their thoughts and opinions on various topics relating to police matters. The conversation began with a discussion about traffic and po related issues in the neighborhood.
Resident Scott McCready, a resident of Moraine St., said that there are “massive trucks that come down my street; people speeding; people that come and dump their cars.”
He proposed that these issues could be resolved if resident permit parking was enacted on the street, as there currently are no restrictions on who can park on Moraine St.
“Why can’t BTD do something?” He asked, referring to the city’s transportation department. “I want tangible results.”
McCready said that he has reached out to Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz “multiple times” about these concerns, but said “they just go through the motions and give you lip service.”
Jim Allen, who lives on the Arborway, said that “I think the thing that bothers me the most is traffic and noise and what to do about it. It’s a quandary.”
Louise Johnson said that “I think that it’s easy to blame the politicians for all our traffic problems and for everybody running red lights and all the other irritations that go along with living in the city.”
She said that the lack of “adequate public transportation” and other methods of getting around contribute to the problem as well.
“Yes, we can blame our public officials,” she said, “but I think we all have a role to play in this problem.”
On the topic of implementing resident permit parking, JPNC Public Service Committee member Paige Sparks said that it “may impact folks disproportionately,” as there are many residents who rely on outside services coming to their homes and the resident permit parking would prevent them from staying for more than two hours.
The conversation shifted to one that was more directly related to the police and how they operate. A comment was made by Jacob Leidof about how he does not feel that the city’s Office of Police Accountability and Transparency (OPAT) is not moving as quickly as he thought.
Sparks said that she has spoken with Stephanie Everett, the Executive Director of OPAT, who told her that there are some “delays associated with trying to get the department off the ground,” Sparks said, but hiring is happening. She also said that the office has “been having conversations about things like subpoena power,” and is “intending to put together some civilian advisory boards.”
JP resident Sarah Freeman said, “I love the idea of getting more mental health responders in action,” and wondered how that was being implemented.
Michael Reiskind said that it’s being piloted in Boston by sending mental health responders along with police, which he said is “definitely a baby step,” and added that a panel has been created to provide advice on executing this.
There was also a discussion around community police officers in Boston, with Reiskind saying he feels that community officers “have a very different idea of policing than the main group.”
Dorothy Farrell said she believes that community officers “are not challenged,” and “are like public relations” professionals who “promote the good side.”
Freeman said she is “sort of a fan of the ice cream truck” that the Boston Police bring to different events in the neighborhoods.
“I think the whole point is for the police and the kids and maybe adults, too, to recognize each other and then if they happen to encounter each other in a more tense situation, it’s not as likely to come as a bad outcome. You’re going to know each other and that’s the basis for de-escalation.”
Others had a different feeling about the truck.
“Sometimes it comes off as very oppressive,” resident Slim Weathers said, adding that the community officers are “very nice,” but “I actually don’t agree with us interacting with them too much.” He said that a civilian review board is necessary and must include “people who are knowledgeable of what’s going on.”
Sparks said that she has concerns that community events like the ice cream truck could be a “false sense of security that we give ourselves.”
She continued, it’s “one of those things where I don’t want it to be the reason that someone doesn’t get shot is because they were given ice cream. I want it to be that people are not shot to begin with.”
Lastly, there was discussion of sending a letter to Mayor Michelle Wu about following up on some of these issues and “upcoming negotiations,” as well as requesting a meeting with her staff.