It was three nights before Christmas, but already on Bowdoin Street, the clip-clop of hooves could be heard above the din of the evening traffic.
That's right: Hooves.
But, instead of Dasher and Dancer, this Christmas brought Mumbo and Shorty, two of the Boston Police Department's finest. With their partners, Officers Jenny Boyce and Denise Schrener mounted up top, they trotted up Bowdoin Street before stopping at the corner of Olney Street for a spell.
People waiting for the bus nearby gawked and giggled- and one came over to stoke Mumbo's furry black snout.
And if the sight of the straw-eating lawmen failed to impress, the next oddity definitely turned some heads: A phalanx of spandex-clad bicycle cops, more than a dozen deep, whizzed by, saluting their saddled-up comrades with a tip of the helmet as they passed.
It was definiely a blue Christmas on the Bowdoin-Geneva corridor, as a police operation aimed at saturating C-11's most troubled streets set up shop in the neighborhood for three consecutive nights. Operation Homesafe, as it was dubbed, started last Wednesday and continued through Christmas Eve morning. It pumped more than 40 additional officers per night into C-11, one of Dorchester's two main police districts, and one that has seen a 200 percent jump in homicides since last year.
This week, police credited the operation for as many as 53 arrests, most of them for outstanding warrants.
From a temporary police command post set up at the corner of Bowdoin St. and Geneva Ave. last Thursday, BPD Deputy Superintendent Thomas Lee- himself a former commander at C-11- coordinated the night's plan. At about 5:15, Lee held "roll call" with a contingent of about 20 uniformed officers, most of whom had been brought in from other police districts from across the city for the operation. A number of Special Operation officers, including the four horses, were on hand as well. On the other end of Geneva, next to the entrance to the Fields Corner MBTA red line stop, a Transit Police mobile command truck was stationed, along with a couple of cruisers, all rolling their lights.
As a sergeant handed out street maps to the cops lined up double-file along the sidewalk, Superintendent Lee explained that the operation would focus on rounding up individuals wanted on warrants in and around Bowdoin-Geneva. The deployment was- in part- Lee said, a reaction to recent shootings in the corridor.
As the officers broke ranks and split off to their assigned streets, Lee's earpiece crackled with word that a teen had been spotted carrying a gun onto an MBTA bus. As Lee monitored the search for the alleged gun-toter which came up empty, he said that the command post at Bowdoin-Geneva would stay up until 11 p.m., but added that warrant arrests would continue until the next morning. Meanwhile, inspectors would be entering bars in the neighborhood looking for any code violations.
Outside Gigli's Place, a barroom on Bowdoin Street that was recently renovated with the help of city development loans, three young men watched the parade of cops troop by and debated the merits of the saturation strategy.
"It's a good thing and a bad thing," offered Pina, a 22 year-old from Dorchester who said he'd been arrested once in his life, for drunkeness. "As long as they don't come to give us trouble. We get locked for nothing."
"They need to get rid of the guns and the crack- but they should leave the weed," laughed Pina's friend.
Evelino, a 29 year-old hanging out in the doorway, was more assured in his opinion.
"No, this is a good thing," he said. "People are scared. There's mad trouble around here. I don't want to see any more bullets."
Juvenile in stable condition after Christmas Day shooting
An unnamed Dorchester juvenile was listed in stable condition after he was shot in the jaw and neck at about 2 p.m. on Christmas Sunday at 6 Fermoy Heights Ave.
Police officers from District B-3 responded to the scene. No motive or arrests are reported in the case.
Two Arrested with gun at Ashmont station