Overflow Crowd Quizzes Police Brass on JP Shootings

Police and politicians answered questions about crime in a packed room at the Nate Smith House on Monday, July 21, 2014.

Chris Helms

Police and politicians answered questions about crime in a packed room at the Nate Smith House on Monday, July 21, 2014.

More than 100 residents packed a Lamartine Street community room to pepper top police officials with questions about Jamaica Plain’s latest spike in violence.

The summer has seen three shootings at or near Stony Brook T:

City Councilor Matt O’Malley, who represents JP, called for the community crime meeting. He recruited an array of top brass from the Boston Police Department and MBTA Transit Police, plus Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins. Politicians turned out as well, including Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz, D-Jamaica Plain, and City Councilor Ayanna Pressley.

Attendees in the stuffy, standing-room-only space at Nate Smith House on Lamartine Street Monday night asked a range of questions, from seeking details on the shootings to probing what youth programs police offer.

New Wrinkle in School Street Shooting

Police revealed new information about the 178 School St. shooting. An investigating officer told the crowd suspects had broken into the shooting victim’s home at 180 School St. this weekend. No shots were fired, but the investigation is giving the department more leads in the case.

Suspect Named in T Shooting

It was already public knowledge that Transit Police have fingered Justin Hollingsworth, 22, as the man who allegedly shot a 23-year-old man in the leg outside the T station. Top MBTA officers told the crowd it is just a matter of time before they bring the suspect in.

Transit Police Deputy Chief Kenneth Green said his department has stepped up patrols around Stony Brook Station, especially during the hours of 4-9 p.m. when most crimes occur there.

Lt. Commander Stephen Salisbury said the MBTA Police use a growing array of cameras, information sharing with other departments and the anti-terrorism Boston Regional Information Center (recently revealed by the Gazette to have monitored JP activists, by the way) to track suspects.

“Trust me, we’re plugged in,” Salisbury said. “We know who these high impact players are.”

Help for School Street?

Among the questions from the audience was what could be done to make School Street, home to three schools, physically safer. For instance, could speed bumps make a difference?

O’Malley said that while the city hasn’t recently used speed bumps widely (save for a few in Hyde Square — the only ones in Boston), there are methods akin to speed bumps that might slow down traffic.

How About Youth Programs and Jobs?

Several questions were about whether the city and state were doing enough to offer youth programs and jobs that might divert young people from violence.

“There are some young people who have lost people four or five times,” said George Lee, who works with youth programs in the city. “They don’t want to live looking over their shoulders.”

Lee said violence can tear neighborhoods further apart, but sometimes it binds them together. He recalled a homicide where neighbors brought soup to the young men holding vigil at a sidewalk memorial.

Asked to name how police work with young people, Community Service Officer Sgt. Beth Leary reeled off a list including Junior Police Academy, coaching softball, giving tours of the police station and having two officers whose full-time job is to work with youth just in JP. For instance, two officers will in August take eight local young people on a trip to Washington, D.C.

“We do a lot with the youth,” Leary said.

Lee urged residents to help youth programs and lobby their representatives to increase the amount of money the state sets aside for summer jobs for young people.

Continuing Momentum from Monday’s Meeting

Capt. Alfredo Andres, who grew up on Forbes Street and now leads the E-13 District that includes JP, urged residents who filled the room Monday to stay in contact with police by attending monthly police-community meetings. He said of the last five such meetings, zero residents showed up to two of them and only two non-police officers at others. The next one is Thursday, Aug. 7. Here’s a list of all the upcoming meetings, which are held either at the police station in JP or at Curtis Hall Community Center.

Police officials also hoped several neighborhood watches might sprout from the interest shown Monday. Anyone who wants to start one for their street is asked to contact Community Service Officer Wallace Grant Tilford at 617-343-4345 or wallace.tilford@pd.boston.gov.

Police and politicians listen to the crowd at the Nate Smith House on Monday, July 21, including Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz, second from left; City Councilor Matt O'Malley, third from left and Capt. Alfredo Andres, District E-13, fifth from left.

Chris Helms

Police and politicians listen to the crowd at the Nate Smith House on Monday, July 21, including Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz, second from left; City Councilor Matt O'Malley, third from left and Capt. Alfredo Andres, District E-13, fifth from left.