Craig Kelley’s notes on the public safety meeting in Cport 9/26/17 at King School. I think they are pretty accurate and do not reflect any editorial attempts on my part but I am sure they are not perfect so please excuse any mistakes.
In attendance were the Mayor, Vice Mayor, City Manager Louie DePasquale, CPD Commissioner Bard and numerous CPD staff.
Louie started out by noting that while this is the second meeting on recent shootings in the area, it won’t be the last. They’ll come as often, and wherever, people want them and they’ll do aggressive outreach because they believe in communication. CPD is 100% supported by the City in addressing this public safety issue. And he is always willing to talk if people want to call his office. 617-349-4300.
Commissioner Bard: More than 3000 hours spent in the community, both patrolling and investigating, since the incidents.
Deputy Superintendent DeMarco- runs the investigation unit, which includes detectives, crime scene and so forth. IT comes under the Emergency Communications Center (ECC). Since the Carnival shooting, there have been no such incidents in the entire City. CPD has been highly visible since then in Cambridgeport and Riverside and will keep it up as needed. In a case like this, one detective is given the case as a priority and an assistant detective is also assigned to the case. So with 3 crime scenes, they have 6 detectives working on this.
The chronology of the shootings confused me, but I think I have it right:
The 5 September was a shooting at about 45 River Street about 10 AM or so. The shooter had been in a fight, weeks earlier, with the victims. They ran into each other at that location and it escalated into a shooting with the shooter shooting two people. He has a warrant out for him and CPD and other local, regional and national law enforcement agencies have that warrant, but he has not been arrested. There was also a â€˜warrantâ€™ arrest of a Cambridge resident at the scene who just happened to be there and was neither the shooter nor the victim.
The 10 September carnival shooting was in front of the stage on Main Street, but did not involve Cambridge residents. It was the result of a previous “beef” and everyone involved was from Boston. Two people were shot. The shooter was arrested after a foot chase and the gun was recovered on the person after the chase.
The River Street shooting on the 10th was a different event but may have involved the same group of people who were involved in the stage shooting. No one was shot in this shooting. About 19 seconds later, shots were fired on Willliams Street. No one was shot there either. A gun was recovered and the alleged shooter arrested a few days later after looking at MIT video and getting tips.
A fourth arrest made at the time of the 3rd arrest based on drug changes unrelated to the shooting.
Superintendent Elow: She is in charge of operations- every uniform you see on the street and gave an update on patrol strategy. Violence in the community is traumatic and thanks the Riverside Trauma Center for participating. She grew up here and really feels this violence- they take this sort of thing very seriously. The mobile command post- a painted over former ambulance- has been driving around the neighborhood. She hopes people are engaging with the officers and they plan to keep this presence- bikes, walking, mobile command post and cruisers- in the community. The hope is that it is making people feel more comfortable. Probably 1500 hours dedicated just to high visibility patrols. Will keep that presence up as long as it’s necessary.
Why did the police station leave central square in 2008? It doesn’t really matter now but woman notices they’re not here. Drug activity has been eradicated in the past 30 years but since 2008 there seems to be more “activity” like the recent shootings. So- what’s up with the substation in Central Square? They want something that would be there for good.
Commissioner- Looking into options. What would it look like? Is it feasible? Would it be mobile like what they’re doing now? Transportable? A storefront? They’re looking.
Marc- warns of a substation in Central Square pushing problems deeper into neighborhoods and onto side streets. Supports investigating it but wants people to be aware of all aspects of the issue.
Commissioner- CPD has to respond to unfolding events, such as last night’s missing child, and it’s not clear they can fully staff something in Central Square and still have needed flexibly but they are investigating all staffing options.
? about Cambridge not having the same level of shooting as Cambridge. Is this a trend of Boston violence spilling over into Cambridge or are these random occurrences with no trend?
Commissioner- sort of both. The first shooting was random, but violence in Boston can spill into Cambridge and CPD works with Boston Gang unit and so forth to intervene and stop threats, but in a free society people will move around and bring their troubles with them.
Denise- we are not immune from violence. We are in a City, in a state, in a country that is fraught with violence. Lots of guns out there.
? about where we are with Community Policing. That used to be in vogue. You get used to people racing by on bicycles on Western Ave but recent motorcycle noise seems over the top. How does that sort of thing fit into community policing?
Commissioner: Community Policing is so integral to policing it should just be called policing- there is no other way to do policing. CPD is committed to it and they’re looking at ways to increase officer/resident interaction. Folks should have seen more officers on bikes recently, which is more interactive than officers even stopping and getting out of cars. The idea is not to flood an area with cops and create a police state but to create a bunch of positive interactions.
Marc- call CPD no matter what if you think it is at all relevant. That’s how they allocate resources and determine trends.
Commissioner- if you don’t call, it didn’t happen. CPD is just as driven by data as the rest of society.
? the bad activity is in the neighborhood already. The beautiful little parks have not nice stuff going on and people have to walk through there and she has never seen a police presence there and she walks through the parks a lot.
Superintendent Elow- If CPD knows specifically where the activity is happening, based on complaints, by folks calling 349-3300, they’ll dispatch people to check it out. Want to know when the activity is happening, can then direct patrols there. Same with speeding bikes & motorcycles. They’ll visit the parks that people complain about.
? about 911 calls. He made a call since last meeting from Dana Park around 7 PM. Someone came into the park who looked psychotic and started talking about shooting young people with a .45. He called 911, went to State Police, was sort of put on hold, then transferred to CPD, eventually someone gets on the line. Finally, close to 15 minutes after he called 911, CPD shows up. That seems like a very long time. Not entirely sure what the outcome wound up being, though CPD seemed to know what to do when they arrived. The man did not like the “pass through” on 911 to CPD and having to repeat his story.
Commissioner- they’ll investigate this call based on date and time.
Christine Giacobbe from ECC- they’re following up with these specific concerns. Officers were in the area, though they did not get to Dana Park immediately. ECC is putting out a new system that should bypass the State Police if people use it.
Denise- call 617-359-3300 on a cell phone to get CPD directly.
Commissioner says still call 911 in an emergency situation.
Handouts exist for mobile applications, key phone numbers, etc.
Woman concerned about status of Central Square. No police presence but lots of drunks and related problematic behavior that she has personally witnessed or experienced. She had a specific story from 4 months ago. Why go with mobile units rather than a fixed substation when the problem seems to be in that location? Commissioner- they are looking into the feasibility of various options, but increasing CPD presence in Central Square is what they are doing.
? about speeding cars. Comment that homeless people seem scarier in San Francisco. And CPD officers are more visible and accessible than anyplace she’s ever lived.
Commissioner- if you want to be a police officer in Cambridge, you have to police the Cambridge way.
? from what she understands, the two shootings were not related or part of a pattern. But given that, she is troubled at how we may be putting behavior that bothers us, from fast cyclists to people acting weirdly, into a “call the police” category. We live in a city- that means we live with and interact with others.
? about neighborhood watch- see something/say something. She thinks Cambridge is pretty good about saying something. She has a concern. Lots of police departments in Cambridge (Harvard, MIT) and she feels pretty safe here. But events that bring problematic behavior- public booze, public sex, etc.- need to be addressed. Come to Cambridge and bring respect. It’s just luck that someone wasn’t killed. Any permits going out need to have respect on them. Respect our City when you come here. As good as CPD may be and as many police departments as Cambridge may have, there is only so much that can be done and we need be willing to say enough is enough.
Louie- The celebration of events in our City is important. Lots of folks were having fun at the Carnival. And there were LOTS of police nearby and there was still a shooting. This was the third year in a row that the Carnival had problems. He is doing a full review of what happened and what might address the issue before he comes to any decision on the Carnival’s future. There were a lot of people having a really good time, but safety has to be the top concern.
Commissioner- neighborhood watches are part of policing, even if informal feedback from neighbors. That’s what solves crimes. It’s everyone’s responsibility to police a neighborhood. He’d be happy to talk with any neighborhood that wants to formalize such a task.
? What is the City’s responsibility around people who are just trashed and lying on the street? Commissioner- it’s society’s responsibility, but CPD is the most visible form of response and they take that stuff seriously here. There is a social worker on CPD staff, work with human services staff but will not criminalize this sort of behavior. Suggests folks join CPD’s homeless outreach team to see how personally CPD handles these issues.
River Street person- He feels safe in this area and appreciates the police presence. It seems to be moving towards a positive change.
Woman- appreciates the gentleness and firmness of CPD responders to people who are agitated, etc.
Commissioner- CPD officers approach cases with a trauma informed approach. That is how they are trained.