In response to the sexual assaults last month, residents got together and hosted a neighborhood-wide community meeting at East Boston High School on public safety and to offer police help while gaining information on what is being done in the community to combat crime.
People have been victimized, said Dr. Neenah Estrella-Luna, one of the event s organizers. Tonight we intend to have constructive conversation about neighborhood safety. We have a right to be safe in our neighborhood, to walk in our neighborhood day or night without being attacked or robbed. We also have a responsibility to increase the safety of community. Hopefully we will better understand what s been done, what can be done in the future and what we can do as a community to make a safer neighborhood.
While Eastie is statistically the third safest neighborhood in Boston that has seen a decrease in crime by 18% over the past three years, the period from January 1 to now has seen a 26% spike in crime when compared to the same period last year.
Boston Police Commissioner William Evans, who attended last week s community meeting, said the increase may seem alarming but when you have a very low crime rate a few incidents can drive the percentages up dramatically.
We have 21 more part one crimes than last year and a lot of these are larcenies and auto related crimes, said Evans. While a 26% increase looks huge you really have only 5 more crimes against people with obviously three more sexual assaults than last year.
In late February in Eagle Hill three women were attacked in less than three hours. A fourth woman was attacked the following day but a suspect was arrested and the police believe it was not related to the first attacks. Three days later a fifth woman was attacked on Chelsea Street and another woman was attacked that Friday.
We know what happened and it concerns us all, said Evans. We were quickly on it and believe me we brought as many resources we could from drug units, gang units and increases patrols that are still ongoing. But this is one of the safest parts of the city and we want it to continue to be that way.
Captain Kelly McCormick said that he would love to be able to have all the extra resources all the time but it simply is not a reality.
However, he said one way he could double his police force is by having the community help be the eyes and ears. McCormick encouraged residents to report anything and everything that they deem suspicious.
We are always out there trying hard and while I wish our numbers were zero that is not a reality, said McCormick. But if people phone in things they see it helps us solve crimes.
McCormick added that another way residents can help is by getting to know their neighbors.
I encourage everyone here tonight to get to know the neighbors on your block, said McCormick. If you know each other and are talking to each other there will always be eyes on the neighborhood and when something is going on that is strange or out of the ordinary you and your neighbors will know.
Police also reiterated that in response to these attacks the police at D-7 will start up a new round of free self-defense classes specifically for women called RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) at a date and time to be announced.
This course will consist of six two-hour sessions. The first class is partially administrative. All the other classes are physically interactive.
Also City Councilor Sal LaMattina, Senator Anthony Petruccelli, Representative Carlo Basile and the Boston Police sponsored a Self Defense Class at the Paris Street Community Center last Wednesday that drew over 100 women.
Sgt. Gary Eblan from the Boston Police Department was on hand to teach his class Street Smarts: Reducing Your Odds in response to the sexual assaults. Like the upcoming RAD classes these classes are also free and open to the public.
Police said the preliminary investigation indicates that the three initial attacks, two of which were sexual in nature, may be connected. In response, police have increased patrols in Eastie and are asking community members especially women to be aware of the attacks so as to enhance and increase their levels of awareness and vigilance.
Police are looking for a suspect that was described as a clean-shaven Hispanic male in his thirties with a mole or mark on his left cheek, 5 5 in height, medium build, wearing a black hat, black North Face-type jacket, black pants and black boots.
Anyone with information is asked to call detectives assigned to the Sexual Assault Unit at (617) 343-4400. Community members wishing to assist this investigation anonymously can do so by calling CrimeStoppers Tip Line at 1(800) 494-TIPS or by texting the word TIP to CRIME (27463). The Boston Police Department will stringently guard and protect the identities of those wishing to remain anonymous.