Newly revived civic group focuses on Morton Street area

The Apple Grove Neighborhood Association met at Harbor Health Services building on Morton Street last Wednesday. Officers of the B-3 police district joined residents as they discussed safety concerns and the best ways to report suspicious activity in the community.

Myrtle Huggins, chairperson of the association, said she started the group years ago, but that it had fallen off in recent years. She started the group back up because she wanted to see what could be done to “reinstate the safety of the neighborhood.”

Huggins describes the contours of the civic association to include Morton Street between Washington Street in Lower Mills to Menton Street, with a southern boundary of Maryknoll Street.

Deputy Randall Halstead, who has been a police officer for 34 years, said he has seen the area change from “a really sleepy bedroom community to one of the most active areas besides B-2,” which covers Roxbury and Mission Hill. However, the neighborhood is beginning to return to quieter times, which he attributes to B-3 Captain Joseph Boyle and vigilant residents.

“We can’t do it without you,” he said. “You’re our eyes and ears. We need you to call us and let us know what’s going on when we’re not around.”

Halstead urged residents to be as descriptive as possible when reporting a crime so that officers know exactly who to look for when responding to a call. He also directed residents to the BPD News website for information on how to report a crime anonymously.

An older woman, who asked not to be named, said there was a certain level of fear of retaliation when calling a hotline or 911, especially for people who live alone. Walter Apperwhite, the mayor’s neighborhood coordinator for Mattapan and parts of Dorchester, said he understands that some people might be afraid, but that it’s still important to report crimes.

“It’s just like a bully. A bully wants you not to tell people that you’re being bullied, they want you to keep it to yourself,” Apperwhite said. “But even if you’re afraid, you need to tell somebody, because that’s the starting point for getting help.”

Apperwhite also reminded people that in addition to reporting crimes anonymously using the Crime Stoppers number, they can also call the mayor’s hotline at 617-635-4500 or send a letter to his office at City Hall.

“You can mail me an anonymous letter,” Apperwhite said. “I have received them, 6 to 7 pages of information. Be as descriptive as possible.”

Officer Cynthia Brewington agreed with Apperwhite and Halstead about the importance of calling the police if a crime is taking place.

“You should not be afraid to dial 911,” Brewington said. “The call taker will gladly listen to you say ‘I do not want to give my name.’ You will not be pressured to give your information.”

Brewington also said the dispatcher will make a note in the system that the tipster did not want to leave their information, so the responding officer know in advance not to seek out the caller.

The meeting ended with the officers and Huggins encouraging residents to speak up if they need police assistance, whether it is for a loud party, a broken streetlight, or a crime in progress.

“I’ve seen a lot of things happen that you’re looking right at, and don’t do anything about,” Huggins said. “And what happens if you don’t do anything about it? It gets out of control.”

The next meeting of the Apple Grove Neighborhood Association will be held Wed., Nov. 28 at 1135 Morton Street from 6 to 8 p.m.