What community policing is all about

April 7, 2010
By

On a warm Friday afternoon Sergeant George Carino and Community Police Officer Gary Marino were in the neighborhood working a traffic detail for East Boston’s annual Good Friday procession when they were approached by a group of teens hanging out, enjoying their day off from school.

Right off the bat you could tell the teens had nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for the two officers and it appeared the two officers knew the kids from the neighborhood and had interacted with them in the past.

The teens talked, joked, asked questions and the police officers did not seem the least bit put out or annoyed by the teens. In fact they knew them by name.

It was perhaps the best example of police work I’ve seen in this neighborhood in some time and it didn’t even involve catching a criminal or cracking a case.

It was simply two officers outside of their cruiser on one of Eastie’s streets connecting with youth.

We need more officers like Sergeant Carino and Officer Marino in Eastie — men that take the time to befriend teens and children here and make them feel they are wanted and belong in the community.

It doesn’t take a genius or a social anthropologist to figure out that if more cops befriend teens here those teens would know they are being looked after and have a watchful eye on them. It’s my opinion these kids would in return have more of a sense of pride in the neighborhood and be less likely to join gangs, get involved in delinquent behavior and would have a whole host of role models to look up to in the neighborhood.

Eastie’s former Police Captain James Claiborne use to tell me that his philosophy was people receive the type of police service they demand. Everyone should have a high standard and pride in their community so the time is now to demand officers start to do the little things, the small strides that can improve this neighborhood.

Eastie has always viewed District 7’s community policing programs as an essential tool to combat crime in the neighborhood. Any new program or initiative to enhance officer’s community policing effort’s in Eastie has been welcomed and embraced.

Back in 2007, Mayor Thomas Menino and Police Commissioner Ed Davis announced the expansion of the walking beat program to Eastie.

The successful Safe Street Team initiative was the latest community policing effort focused on a proactive and preventative crime reduction strategy because it got officers out of their cruisers and on the streets.

Eastie received one of nine Safe Street Teams that have been deployed in areas experiencing violent crime and/or disorder.

The team currently patrols the Maverick and Eagle Hill section of the neighborhood but the latest uptick in crime, incidents of gang graffiti and violence and general dissatisfaction among residents of the direction the neighborhood is heading proves one thing — we need more officers here doing the things like Carino and Marino where doing last Friday in Eastie.

Because it’s not enough to have extra bodies in a cruiser or authority figures walking around the streets but officers that are willing to walk up to a teen in trouble or one that is feeling isolated or alone here and ask “what’s going on in your life today?”

  • Sgt. Carino and Officer Marino are representative of many BPD officers in districts all over the city who care about kids and would rather be their allies than their enemies. My City-Wdie Dialogues colleagues and I facilitated 15 Youth-Police Dialogue series (a series is three 3-hour sessions with 20 teens and 10 officers) in neighborhoods affected by crime and violence. Every time, the group went from initial wariness in Session 1 to joking and brainstorming with each other in Session 3 and asking “how can we continue this?” It's not rocket science. Most cops are good people trying to do a difficult job and most kids are good kids. Given the time and space to air gripes and stereotypes, discuss the toughest issues and get to know each other, they often find they actually like each other.

  • Sgt. Carino and Officer Marino are representative of many BPD officers in districts all over the city who care about kids and would rather be their allies than their enemies. My City-Wdie Dialogues colleagues and I facilitated 15 Youth-Police Dialogue series (a series is three 3-hour sessions with 20 teens and 10 officers) in neighborhoods affected by crime and violence. Every time, the group went from initial wariness in Session 1 to joking and brainstorming with each other in Session 3 and asking “how can we continue this?” It's not rocket science. Most cops are good people trying to do a difficult job and most kids are good kids. Given the time and space to air gripes and stereotypes, discuss the toughest issues and get to know each other, they often find they actually like each other.

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