By Suzanne Besser, BHCA President
Community Service Officer talks about the homeless
At a Beacon Hill Civic Association meeting last week, Kerri Wells, community service officer for Boston Police Area A-1, urged the residents and businesses present to call 911 whenever they see public drinking, urination or aggressiveness by homeless individuals and panhandlers on Cambridge Street.
“You are our eyes and ears, and it helps when you reach out to us to tell us what’s going on,” Wells said. “I can’t promise we can remove those individuals involved, but we can clean it up a little bit and make it a better place for everyone.”
Wells said she tries to learn the names of homeless individuals who frequent Cambridge Street and to build relationship with them. “We want to be able to engage them for at least a few minutes,” she said. “Then we can talk with them and let them know the consequences of their behavior and ask them to go elsewhere.”
If callers to 911 indicate that the problems involve public drinking and urination or aggressiveness, they are considered high priority and the police will arrive on the scene. If the caller said the individual is intoxicated and passed out, an ambulance will be sent.
Even if the police are unable to come, the record of 911 calls are still important because they provide a documentation about the behavior of the particular individuals, Wells said. When an individual is taken to court, such documentation helps the judge know whether he is dealing with a mental health count or a drug count, for example.
The meeting was sponsored by BHCA’s Cambridge Street Quality of Life Committee, formed last year after many residents expressed concern about the loitering and other disruptive behavior by homeless individuals. “Businesses and residents share the same concern,” said the Committee Vice-Chair Tony Wrubel. “This meeting was a chance for them to get to know each other so that they can work together to find proactive positive approaches to the issues.”
Since January, committee members have urged managers of Cambridge Street liquor stores to be more careful about selling to the homeless and to raise the price of nips. Already, improvements have been seen, they said. The committee also encourages businesses to add lighting and security cameras in dark places, such as in alley behind their properties.
Wednesday, July 19: Evening on the Esplanade. Opening Night of the Boston Landmarks Orchestra Summer Concert Series. Pre-concert wine and cheese party at the Church of the Advent’s Hidden Garden. Box Suppers by Panificio available for purchase.
Visit the Beacon Hill Civic Association website bhcivic.org and/or call the office (617-227-1922) for more information.