Police brass tried to reassure a crowd of more than 50 concerned residents who gathered at the Pond Friday that they're doing everything possible to find two young men suspected in at least two armed robberies.
But although police said they increased patrols immediately after one armed robbery came to their attention, and though armed robberies are down 33 percent in JP's District E-13, some residents came away unconvinced.
"We did feel safe here," said resident Carmen Watkins. "I feel like there's an escalation now."
Indeed, the morning after the community meeting, scanner traffic indicated another incident about 12:15 p.m. Saturday. This one was near Perkins and Jamaicaway and also involved two young men, according to Universal Hub.
BPD at Jamaica Pond: 2 teens put kitchen knives up to person's neck, near Perkins and Jway. Both abt 15, black maybe Hisp., in red hoodies.
— Adam Gaffin (@universalhub) October 4, 2014
As of 1:45 p.m., police media relations did not have any confirmation of the Saturday incident.
Many of the questions the crowd asked police on Friday had to do with when they knew about the robberies and how they chose to inform the public of them.
There were two armed robberies at the Pond on Wednesday, Sept. 24: One at 11 p.m., in which a bicyclist was robbed of his laptop, phone and cash and left tied to a tree. The other took place about 11:30 p.m., when a group of three people walking around the pond were accosted by a duo with the same description as in the 11 p.m. incident.
Police say the victims in the second mugging did not report the crime until two days later. However, based on the first mugging where the victim was tied to a tree, police say they had already increased patrols.
Superintendent of Field Services Bernard O'Rourke told the crowd that he reviewed that report the next day and flagged it to Captain Alfredo Andres, who commands Jamaica Plain's E-13 district.
"Obviously, it was disturbing with the fact that the victim was tied up," O'Rourke said.
Measures police are now taking include extra patrols, including having a cruiser go around the Pond path with its blue lights on, fixing a broken call light at the Pond and having plain-clothes officers walk the area. O'Rourke and Andres said the special attention will continue until the muggers are arrested.
O'Rourke said residents should dial 911 if they see someone they think is suspicious.
"If you see something, say something," he told the crowd. "Don't keep it to yourself. We can be here a lot. We can't be here 24-7."
Police did not issue a community alert about the muggings until Sept. 30, six days after they were aware of the first incident and four days after the second one was reported.
O'Rourke said residents could check the department's Website, bpdnews.com, which has crime statistics from the previous 24 hours.
[Editor's note: At Jamaica Plain News, we aim to check the police logs for District E-13 on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. We regularly publish highlights from the logs.]
Advice From Police and Neighbors
Police said being aware of your surrounding and walking with a purpose helps make you less of a target for muggers.
"They tend to target people who aren't paying attention," O'Rourke said.
Deputy Superintendent Colm Lydon, a longtime JP resident, said JP's neighborhood spirit can help people stay safe.
"Be vibrant, be concerned, be connected," he told the crowd.
On that note, politician Maura Hennigan, well known for her walks around the Pond, urged residents that when you see someone immersed in their headphones and not paying attention, to let them know about the recent muggings.
"They aren't at these meetings," said Hennigan, who is clerk magistrate of Suffolk County, and was a longtime City Council member.
Jack Fay, whose Jamaica Pond Assoc. was one of the sponsors of Friday's meeting, encouraged residents to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or concerns. The group meets each month at Jamaicaway Tower. The next meeting is Monday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m.
City Councilor Matt O'Malley, who represents JP and lives on Arborway, said the muggings shouldn't keep residents away from the Pond.
"It's a very very special place for all of us here," said O'Malley, who had just returned from a trip to Japan. "The last thing we should do is not continue to enjoy it."
That attitude is difficult for resident Marilyn Morrissey, who said after the meeting she wasn't convinced police were doing everything they could. It wasn't just the muggings at the Pond. She and neighbors had bikes stolen recently out of a locked sheds in their yards.
"There's no point in being in the city if you feel like you can't enjoy it," she said.
Descriptions of the Suspects
Police say both robbers were black or black and Hispanic. In the two Sept. 24 robberies, one showed a gun and the other had a knife. One suspect stood 5-0 or 5-4 while the other was between 5-5 and 6-0. Their ages are estimated to be between 14 and 21.
Police ask anyone with information to contact District E-13 detectives at 617-343-5628.
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