Boston officials charge State Police have impeded criminal investigations on Massport land

Sanfilippo: Problems on the waterfront.Sanfilippo: Problems on the waterfront.Maybe it's just as well nobody from the State Police showed up at a City Council hearing today on 1996 law that took jurisdiction away from Boston Police over a large swath of the South Boston waterfront and gave it to them. They might not have liked what city councilors and Boston Police officials had to say.

Boston Police Superintendent in Chief Daniel Linskey and Gerry Sanfilippo, president of the Boston Police Detectives Benevolent Society, cited examples of how the jurisdictional issues are causing problems for law enforcement - problems they say will only increase as the Seaport/Innovation District is built out.

Sanfilippo said just this month, BPD ran into problems with a domestic-assault case. A man punched his girlfriend in the face at Remy's on Northern Avenue on June 15. The woman reported it to a trooper stationed outside the restaurant, who told her to wait outside while they search for the man. She eventually just returned to the Ramada in Dorchester where she was staying with him and called Boston Police - who found the man there. When a detective notified State Police, a trooper told him he was "not interested in pursing this incident and they would not respond to the Ramada Inn."

Linskey said a couple of years ago, Boston Police were nearing the arrest of somebody who still had the jewelry he had from a German couple staying at the Seaport Hotel - on Massport land - when State Police insisted they needed to take control of the investigation and start from scratch. The result: The couple had to fly back to Germany without the jewelry.

City Council Chairman Steve Murphy said he was recently at a political event at Remy's when a Massport officer began threatening to limit admission because of capacity issues. Murphy knew the cop had no authority - because the city of Boston issues occupancy permits - but the officer wouldn't back down, he said.

C-6 Detective John Foundas on an example of a potentially catastrophic issue.

The law may have made sense back in 1996, when Massport was strictly in the transportation business and much of the seaport consisted of traditional wharves, Murphy said. But today, all those wharves and nearby blocks are at the heart of what City Hall now calls the Innovation District - which, after decades, seems poised to become Boston's next hot neighborhood - and Massport has let developers use its wharves and land for condos, hotel rooms, bars and restaurants, such as the newly completed Liberty Wharf.

"In my view, they're now in the real estate business," and not well equipped to handle routine city-style police work that will only increase as more people move in, Murphy said. Police Commissioner Ed Davis said that after considerable research, he has yet to find another city in the country where the local police force does not have full jurisdiction within city limits. He noted BPD and State Police already have "concurrent" jurisdiction over the former MDC parkways in the city.

Councilor Maureen Feeney (Dorchester) and Police Superintendant William Evans said they are both concerned that nobody's inspecting the bars to make sure they're not overserving - or just serving minors. Boston Police don't, even though the city issues the liquor licenses, because they're on Massport land. State Police don't because they don't have the manpower for it, they said. If the under-21 set doesn't know they might have an easier time on the waterfront now, they soon will, Feeney said.

Evans on why he wants Boston Police to have authority to respond to incidents on Massport land:

"It fails common sense completely," Murphy said. Murphy pointed to the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case in New York and wondered what the result would have been if the alleged attack had been in a Boston hotel and he tried to get on a plane at Logan: Could Boston Police take him off the plane at the last moment? Davis said that would make a good law-school question.

Bill Linehan, the city councilor most directly affected because he represents South Boston, said he wants his new constituents "to receive the same professional and quality protection we receive from the Boston Police Department.

"It's absolutely ludicrous that the State Police, who have jurisdiction in my district are not here," he said. He noted that Massport relies on Boston Fire and EMS for their emergency services; restricting police just makes no sense.

Joseph Lawless, head of Massport security, said his hands are tied by current state law, which give jurisdiction to the State Police. He said Massport is preparing legislation that would let it sign a "memorandum of understanding" with Boston Police to allow its officers to respond to incidents. But Davis and Feeney said that wasn't good enough, in part because courts have held only the legislature can decide police jurisdictional issues.

"We all can give the State Police great credit, they do a good job, but this is Boston, and you're the people who keep us safe," Feeney told Boston Police officials and union heads at the hearing.

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      Comments

      want a great example of SP incompetence?

      By on

      One word: Esplanade.

      You know, that place where every summer, as soon as it gets dark, women start getting attacked at least once a week?

      The state police's idea of 'patrolling' the area is to park a cruiser on the island and have the trooper yack on his cell phone all night.

      Another Massachusetts failure

      Especially with the stolen jewelry...some poor tourists couldn't get their stuff back because somebody who got picked on when they were 12 just can't let it go and just can't let a city cop do his job. And as for the lady who got assaulted outside Remy's, what the (expletive) do you mean "not interested in pursuing?" Isn't that dereliction of duty? What the (expletive) are we paying for if they're not investigating crimes?

      The next good argument that somebody gives me for why Boston should not disaffiliate with Massachusetts and become its own state will be the first. They tell us how many liquor licenses we can have, they don't police our city correctly when taking over jurisdiction, and I'm still writing a health insurance check every month for nothing. Move their capital to Worcester and let's be rid of these morons once and for all. Let all their lazy workers rip somebody else off for once instead of dragging Boston down with them.

      over-reaction?

      By on

      These cheap-ass Manolo Blahnik knock-offs are giving me a blister...c'mon girls, let's firebomb DSW.

      Put non-transportation-related facilities on Massport land into the jurisdiction of city Police. Better yet, why does Massport have any say over any property that is no longer related to transportation? The Back Bay used to be a cess-filled swamp, do brownstone owners go through BWSC or Fish and Wildlife to get variances? (excepting groundwater concerns.) Things change and in this case by the very deliberate decisions of the city and state -- so why don't they get their poop assembled and change the process along with the reality.

      Moving State government out of Boston to Worcester...ceding from the Commonwealth...that's just kooky talk.

      Why is that kooky?

      I don't want people less intelligent than me making decisions that impact my city. It's that simple.

      Let me guess, Adam

      By on

      If the under-21 set doesn't know they might have an easier time on the waterfront now, they soon will, Feeney said.

      Did she point and stare you down while she was saying that? Hehehe...

      The policing issue is not as dire as the union people make it

      By on

      Rather, this is yet another attempt to get more money from Massport.

      The 1996 law was tucked into the back of an 80 page bill at the behest of the state police union to make sure that they would retain their duties on Massport property. Everyone was happy with that, excepting, perhaps Massport which pays HUGE money for Troop F, because the BPD didn't want anything to do with the airport, there was very little then to police on Massport lands around the harbor, and Massport money doesn't come out of the state budget. The state got to keep the state police happy at no cost to Beacon Hill.

      Oh how times have changed. BPD now wants control over South Boston. This may or may not be as altruistic as folks make it sound. The working relationship between the Massport Port Officers, BPD and State Police is better than everyone makes it sound when they are talking to their higher-ups.

      One thing is for damn sure, however: The City definitely wants Massport to pay it more in PILOT payments (to head off budget woes), and by assuming some responsiblity for policing in South and East Boston, it would be able to argue that it deserves it (eventhough it will claim much more $$ than required, and will get it because the politicians will lean on Massport, which the state treats like a piggy bank whenever it can).

      Someday the feds are going to say "enough" and nail Massport for unlawfully diverting airport revenue, and that's when the state and city will have to figure out how to pay for stuff the old fashioned way - by raising its own revenue and buy cutting the waste.

      PILOT

      By on

      Yes, Murphy did bring that up - thinks Massport isn't paying the city enough as it is right now (then again, he would, given his role in the effort to increase payments to the city by non-profits).

      State Police have handled waterfront for decades

      By on

      @issacg: "The 1996 law...at the behest of the state police union to make sure that they would retain their duties on Massport property."
      ---
      Retain is they key word. I can recall some 30+ years ago attending Mass at the waterfront chapels, attending boat shows at the old Commonwealth Pier Exhibition Hall, dinner at Jimmy's etc. and having troopers assigned to Massport handling traffic duties on Northern Avenue and surrounds, so their presence is nothing new. So BPD brass and city officials are just getting around to being outraged? Please.

      That said, every municipal officer be it Boston or Belchertown, should have jurisdiction in every inch of that community. The system that has troopers handling traffic on state roads and crimes on state property while city cops handle local roads, house and business calls seems to work throughout the old MDC district and is probably the ideal solution. No surprise that there is a "legalized" attempt by the city to extort money from Massport. With Dorchester the scene of nightly murders and a 4 year-old being gunned down in a park, is Menino still talking about BPD taking over police patrols of the Southie beaches?

      Watch the Evans clip

      By on

      He wants State Police to do what he says they do well - patrol the beaches.

      The issue is that 20 years ago, what was on the waterfront? Shipping businesses (think Conley Terminal), a lot of parking lots, and a couple of restaurants. Now you've got people actually living there. Are State Police equipped to handle domestic and sexual assaults?

      One of the incidents that the South Boston detective brought up was a sexual assault case at the Seaport Hotel parking garage. Boston Police took the initial call, then got a call from a State Police narcotics detective asking for the case files. Are narcotics detectives trained to handle sexual assault cases?

      Sounds like a result of how the E911 system worked-not policing

      By on

      The State Police are fully capable of handling any kind of issue that requires police response. As I said below, they have plenary jurisdiction throughout the Commonwealth. This is not like the situation, for example, in New York, where you almost never, ever see a state trooper in NYC.

      The situation described sounds more like a function of how the E911 system works here. Any landline calls from within Boston (that would include Massport properties, so long as they have a Boston exchange) go into the Boston "Turret" at BPD police headquarters. They then call State Police Troop F if the incident is on Massport property (which they know, because the system is GPS enabled, and there are special codes to indicate that the call is from a Massport property).

      Incidentally, all cell phone calls made from anywhere in the Commonwealth are answered by the state police (usu. Framingham) and routed to the proper first responders (police, ems, whatever).

      Not exactly true Issac.

      The State Police are not staffed or budgeted at the right level to properly police the waterfront district.

      "Properly police" is a question of degree

      By on

      I am not sure how anyone could say with any degree of confidence that you are right or wrong.

      One thing I am confident of, however, is that many residents of [insert name of high-crime Boston neighborhood here] would say the Boston police are not staffed or budgeted at the right level to properly police [insert name of high-crime Boston neighborhood here].

      Some might also argue that residents of the South Boston Waterfront, who have State Police and Massport Port Officers patrolling (Yes, they have police powers on Massport property) a relatively small well-lighted area are getting more policing than lots of areas in and around the city.

      The people don't really know what they have though.

      The state police have many troopers helping out Boston in the serious gang/high crime areas. Some of the best cops in Boston right now are the troopers that are involved in these areas. Dorchester has the advantage of Boston cops and Troopers on patrol and in special units responding to calls in this area. Troopers can scan the radio for serious calls to assist Boston, while Boston Patrol units can respond to calls that the troopers don't (domestics, missing persons, assaults, tresspassing, civil disputes, etc)

      On the waterfront though, the Boston Police have no idea what kind of calls go in to 911 because there aren't any Boston cops there. The troopers that could or should be there handling these calls are actually in Dorchester and Roxbury where they are probably needed more.

      I'm not saying the quality of the street officer is better, but from what I read and hear, the waterfront in that area would probably be better served by a Boston police precint than it would a Trooper Barracks.

      The Police "issue" is all about union posturing.

      By on

      By way of agreement with your comment, your recollection should make sense to folks, as most of that land in what we now call the "waterfront" was created (filled) and owned by the Commonwealth and therefore policed by it (State Police).

      I would just remind folks that the State Police have jurisdiction throughout the Commonwealth, and in some towns out west, are the only policing force. Our state police are not the highway patrol that they are in some other jurisdictions. In fact, I think you will find many cities and towns quite grateful for their assistance and resources (Springfield and Holyoke and lots of the other older poorer cities come to mind). For that matter, I know from talking to former members that you'd also find many elements within the BPD grateful for their assistance as well (the gang unit comes to mind).

      People need to realize that this whole thing (police in the Seaport, on the beaches, etc.) comes down to union posturing, and in particular, jockeying for detail work (bars as well as construction). The Boston fire department is trying to do the same thing but is being quieter about it (presumably given their recent fight on drug testing, etc.).

      Is that 1996 law the reason

      By on

      Is that 1996 law the reason why Massport owns most of the on-street parking meters in the Seaport District?

      Massport meters

      By on

      No. Massport owns those meters because it owns the streets and the land underlying many of the buildings down there (WTC, Seaport Hotel, etc.). That's also why the State Police and the Massport Port Officers have police jurisdiction.

      The land was conveyed to Massport by the Commonwealth (the land is still sometimes called "Commonwealth Flats") when Massport was created in the 50s. The Massport land is generally the area north of Congress and east of East Service Rd. over to the BMIP. There are certain parcels that are owned or controlled by others, but that's a rough outline. You can generally tell by the blue street signs, too.

      Sanfillipo is lying

      By on

      Sanfillipo is lying through his teeth on this "Remy's" assault !!

      Yes - I'm calling him a liar.

      Boston's calltaker tried to broom the assault to State with "Do you have the assault at Remy's on ATLANTIC AVENUE??"

      State Police don't handle Atlantic Avenue

      Nor do they handle the Ramada Inn on Morrissey Blvd.

      So, if they have an assault in a bar on Atlantic Avenue, and or the Ramada Inn on Morrisey - neither of which are on MSP jurisdiction - how is it that MSP was impeding ANYthing? (when they were not ever involved in the first place!)

      Further - starting this month - Boston police will be answering Boston area cellular 911 calls - now - they can't figure out what to do with the calls they get now - and they're going to handle THAT?

      Further on that - they will be the ONLY ones that get calls on something on MSP jurisdiction - they will THEN complain that MSP isn't responding - forgetting that MSP would have no idea something's happened unless Boston tells them.

      Beyond that - they will not start EMS for a call that is on MSP - they just transfer the call and disconnect. Oblivious to the neccessity of starting out an ambulance quickly.

      And a side note? Boston's 911 call takers are **NOT** certified to even take those calls! They train with another dispatcher, then are left on their own - never going to E911 school to learn the rules.

      Good luck to anyone needing help in Boston !!

      Interesting article by either

      By on

      Interesting article by either a Trooper or a wannabe. Simple solution to the problem though; leave the real city police work to the real city cops and get the troopers back on Highway patrol duty where they belong then no jurisdictional disputes. City cops in the city ,state cops on state highways, see wasn't that easy.

      Typical response from a

      By on

      Typical response from a disgruntled municipal officer. My friend, you have no idea about quality policing provided by the finest police force in the Commonwealth...the MSP.

      By the way...the business owners in the Seaport district don't want BPD handling any police matters in their area. They don't need the strong-arming and harassment that BPD has been attempting the past few months. Go ask them if you don't believe me.

      The individual officer is better yes, the agency as a whole no.

      Ever get a call for a crash on a parkway and have to wait 20-40 minutes for a trooper to show up? Imagine if the troopers had to be the first agency to respond? Imagine if the State Police were the only ones to respond to all 911 calls that were on state property? Municipal departments show up first and then have to wait for a trooper to show up. Time is wasted by the trooper that has to go in the handle the call, the municipal officer is wasting their time waiting, and the person invovled in the crash is wasting their time as well.

      I'm not talking about the quality of the line officer/trooper here. I'm talking about the logistics of manpower and patrol response times. The troopers are not staffed at the right level to handle patrol functions for large populations and they know that.

      And if you were a business owner, why would you want someone inspecting your place? Much easier to be unregulated. Of course you could have spoken about this at the meeting if you were so concerned about it.

      When Boston PD has a handle

      By on

      When Boston PD has a handle on the crime within their existing jurisdiction...and when they can get their homicide solve rate up to the national average (instead of 15% below it @50%) then they can start to talk about expanding their concurrent jurisdiction.