Alfredo Andres, the first Latino to make captain in the Boston Police Department, didn't grow up dreaming of being a cop. But he did grow up right here in Jamaica Plain.
Andres and his family came from Cuba in 1971 and settled on Forbes Street in Hyde Square. His family is from Oriente province in Cuba. And yes, that's the same area of the island for which El Oriental de Cuba, Jamaica Plain's famous Cuban restaurant, gets its name. In fact, Andres knew El Oriental's proprietor, Nobel García, back when the restauranteur and his family ran García Superette in the space now home to Captain Nemo's.
Back when Andres was growing up on Forbes Street, there was a lot of crime out of nearby Mozart Street. While crews with allegiance to Mozart continue to cause trouble, notably with the three deaths inside Same Old Place back in 2010, Andres notes that Mozart is "not so much" a problem as it once was.
Career path to becoming first Latino captain
Andres graduated from Jamaica Plain High School in 1985. He began his career in the Army, leaving with the rank of sergeant. Back in civilian life, he said he gravitated to work in environments with a similar sense of discipline and command structure. He worked in corrections (including at Deer Island Prison in Boston Harbor) from 1989 to 1993.
After two years with the MBTA police, Andres trained at Boston Police Academy. He's been with Boston Police since 1995.
"I've enjoyed it very much," Andres said Monday during an interview in his Jamaica Plain office. "I found a home when I came to this department."
Andres continued his education at UMass Boston, where he earned his bachelor's degree, and Anna Maria College, where he took his master's.
As a beat cop, Andres patrolled Roxbury (Area B-2 in police terms) from 1995 to 2004. He made sergeant in fall of 2004 and moved to covering the South End (District D4). Other assignments for him have included Brighton and, as a lieutenant under Captain John Greland, Dorchester. Residents may remember that Greeland later served as commander of Jamaica Plain's district.
Andres was elevated to deputy superintendent in the police commissioner's office in 2009. He took on the job of union relations in 2011.
In the fall of 2012, Andres made Boston Police history by becoming the first Latino to make captain. His appointment to Jamaica Plain in February marked the first time he'll be formally using those captain's bars as commander of a district. He was demoted from deputy superintendent in a set of moves by new Police Commissioner William Evans to increase diversity in the command structure.
His plans for Jamaica Plain
One question any Jamaica Plain commander expects is how his officers will be deployed — on foot or in squad cards. Andres is quick to say he's only 45 days into his new role as captain of E-13, but he does plan to continue foot patrols in Egleston Square and around Bromley-Heath. When he has the manpower, he said, he will also have foot patrols in Hyde and Jackson squares.
As for other goals, he said he wants his men and women to be approachable.
"I want the residents of Jamaica Plain to be comfortable going up to officers," Andres said. "It's what I expect for officers under my command."
Andres recommends any resident who is concerned with crime or has ideas to share to attend one of the department's monthly police-community meetings. The next one is Thursday, May 1. There's also one specifically for the Latino community. The next one of those takes place Thursday.
"We're their police department," Andres said of JP's residents. "We're here to make sure they feel safe in their neighborhood."