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Boston Police to open satellite office at Bromley-Heath housing complex to try to combat recent wave of violence

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  October 19, 2012 02:52 PM

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The Boston Police Department plans to open a satellite office at the Bromley-Heath residential complex in an effort to combat a wave of violence there in recent months.

It will be the department's only satellite office at a public housing complex.

Officers from the city police department and others from a separate police unit for the city’s housing authority already patrol the 23.5-acre development, located where Jamaica Plain, Mission Hill and Roxbury converge.

The complex houses about 3,000 residents and has long been troubled by crime.

During a two-and-a-half week span this past summer, at least five people were shot in three separate non-fatal incidents in and around Bromley-Heath, authorities have said.

After that stretch, there were a few more reports of gunfire, but no injuries, along with one rape, eight robberies and several aggravated assaults, according to Boston Police spokeswoman Cheryl Fiandaca.

Last week, gunfire erupted at Bromley-Heath and officers found several cars with bullet holes and one man bleeding from a gunshot wound in his leg, police said.

The wave of violence in June and July prompted the Boston Housing Authority, which owns and manages the site, to request that the Boston Police Department open a satellite office there, Fiandaca said.

The housing authority is now preparing, at "minimal" cost, a space at 40 Bickford St. that is expected to open two to three months from now, according to Lydia Agro, a spokeswoman for the authority.

Boston Police Safe Street teams will use the satellite office to write reports and meet with community members, Fiandaca said.

The police department has about a dozen Safe Street teams in Boston that each consist of about five officers, supervised by a sergeant, who patrol on bikes and on foot and are assigned to high-crime areas.

A federally funded study found that areas patrolled by the teams experienced a 17 percent drop in overall violent crime during the three years after the strategy’s launch in 2006.

But the number of homicides and sexual assaults did not change significantly, the study found. And, some have criticized the teams’ coverage areas and schedules as being too predictable to criminals and that some patrols do little to engage with the community.

Boston Police used to operate a satellite office at the Bunker Hill public housing development in Charlestown, Fiandaca said. That office closed several years when the department opened the new, full-time A-15 district station in the neighborhood.

The summer time shootings at Bromley-Heath prompted protest from residents who called for more to be done to keep the development safe.

Housing authority officials said then they had evicted at least one problem tenant and were moving to evict several others from Bromley-Heath. Boston Police confiscated at least two illegally-carried guns during arrests in that area this summer. And, the agency moved to install $100,000 worth of security cameras and several thousand dollars in new exterior lighting.

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