B-3 police highlight dramatic crime drop at monthly forum

Boston Police officials proudly unveiled new statistics that show a dramatic drop in crime so far this year on the B-3 district that covers parts of Dorchester and Mattapan. The numbers were presented at last Wednesday's monthly B-3 Dorchester/Mattapan Neighborhood Council meeting at the Mildred Avenue Community Center. Over 35 people attended, discussing some of the concerns that surfaced during last month's meeting and bringing new ideas to the forefront.

B-3 Community Service Sergeant Timothy Torigian began with a presentation of the 2007 year-to-date crime data in Area B-3, which according to statistics presented at the community meeting, have taken a positive turn.

"As you can see, crime rates have went down almost a quarter. We couldn't be happier," said Torigian, who attributes the large decrease in crime to placing more police presence in and around each neighborhood.

According to Torigian, overall violent crime on the district has taken a major turn, going down by 42 percent as contrasted with the same time frame in 2006. Total part 1 crime- a summary of the six most serious crime categories- has decreased by 23%.

The news is good across the board, said Torigian. Robbery has plummeted by 55 percent so far this year, Other crime categories were also impressive: Aggravated assaults are down 45%; auto theft is down 24%.

"I think we have a momentum going," said Captain James Claiborne, commander of Area B-3, as he described the role the police have played in assisting rival groups in coming together to begin communicating what they want from police and, most importantly, need from one another.

"They have stopped shooting at each other since we have [started the truces]," said Claiborne. "I'm not ready to throw the flag up and declare victory," said Claiborne. However, Claiborne conveyed that the process is "a start" and has played a fundamental role in the decrease of overall violence.

"I'll be a lot happier when we do this for three years. Nonetheless, I think talking to them on their terms is working," said Claiborne.

In other news from the Neighborhood Council, Darryl Smith, chair of the City of Boston's Neighborhood Response Team for Dorchester and Mattapan, discussed a new program, Skate for Peace, an event scheduled to take place every other Wednesday at Chez Vous roller rink. The activity, Smith said, is intended for youth "to enjoy themselves, get educated and have fun."

The second portion of the meeting was geared toward presentations by Paul Sutton from Boston Parks and Recreation Department, who gave an update on the Gladeside Terrace property located off of River Street in Mattapan. The city-owned site has long been protected as an urban wild and is described by Sutton as a wonderful place to bring children for recreation.

"This is really nature sanctuary trails," said Sutton about the nature site. "It is good for people with respiratory problems…weight control. It's a terrific site, worth a trip out there to see how much has been put into it," he added.

Mattapan business owners Stacey and Victor Thomas were on hand to discuss recent changes to their hours of operation to comply with the law. While in the process of re-applying for a food license, they agreed to shut down the Mattapan Square Mobil Station at 12 a.m. Some residents voiced a concern, as to whether changing these hours will impact the Thomas's business. Ms. Thomas assured them this was not the case. A vote was taken in their favor of granting a food license, which will allow them to stay open after hours while serving food.

"Not too many groups or businesses I meet come to an agreement within an hour," said Sergeant Torigian about Stacey and Victor Thomas.

Also last Wednesday, Marcos Beleche, a representative from Codman Square Neighborhood Development, presented a proposal for new 4 units of housing on Norfolk Street that were supported by the residents present. Paige Thompson, Project Manager for Franklin Field South III Homes, proposed a variance for a continuation of the Codman Square NDC's first time home buyer housing development of duplexes and two family homes on Stratton, Calender and Floyd Street. Thompson assured attendees that, "Out of the seventeen homes, fifteen will be affordable."

Finally, Mattapan resident Mary Burks gave an update on a Senior Banquet for the community, a black-tie event scheduled to take place on Friday, April 20. Tickets for this event can be purchased at the Area B-3 police station.