There is an ongoing dispute between the State Police and the Boston Police over a piece of land in South Boston that a few years back no one particularly wanted. Slowly its value was discovered and now it is one of the places to be. Some say it happened when the Moakley Federal Court house was built. That attracted a lot of criminals and con artists to the area, who being one step ahead of everyone else most of the time as you have to be to do well in that underworld, saw the value of the land’s location pressing upon downtown.
The more likely cause was the location itself. Boston and Massachusetts people take a while to figure things out. San Francisco had developed its waterfront 50 years earlier and almost every city in the nation reclaimed areas on the waterfront or river front for development before Boston got around to doing it. Add to ongoing rumble that the land had great value the Big Dig and other public projects made the area more accessible to cars and pedestrian; no longer would some have to walk under the giant green highway structure that cut it off from the downtown.
Once eyes opened to the area hotels came. They helped give the district’s new name Seaport District currency along with the name “Boston Waterfront.” Although it is the original South Boston docks in a few years any connection with South Boston will be a distant memory. There is only one thing that all the development lacked and that was a plan. No one looked into the future to figure out how to incorporate it into the city; how would the new influx of people living there be accommodated; how would the increase in vehicle traffic be handled; where would all the vehicles part; and the like.
Some lament that it will never be a true district in Boston with a school, library, grocery store, and families. That is true because it is part downtown Boston business, part luxury condo living, part upscale restaurant but mostly children free. It is not going to be a neighborhood. City neighborhoods are for a different type of person. These are waterfront people.
The Seaport District will be what the future is about when the word neighbor will have little meaning. You won’t know or care to know anyone who lives around you since you can live on the internet’s offerings for a full social life and to have your food and other necessities delivered to you.
One thing that will not change is the need to maintain the security of the area. That will be up to the Boston Police who will have primary responsibility for that job in the Seaport District as it does in every other neighborhood in the city. Wait a minute cry the State Police. Don’t get ahead of yourself. We have responsibility for that district also. Logan Airport is located in Boston. We control that so we also control the new district because it was formerly Massport property.
The Boston Globe had an article on this recently. The State Police Colonel Alben wrote a letter to Boston Police Commissioner Evans whining about Boston cops stepping on the boots of the state cops. There’s talk of some legislation being needed to clarify the situation which Mayor Walsh described as “the outdated statute regarding jurisdiction in the Seaport.” The problem goes back at least to 2003 and probably much before that.
This is all ridiculous. Don’t these police departments have enough to do without getting into turf wars like some criminal gangs in Los Angeles? It is time to straighten it out. But the cops can’t do it because neither Boston nor the Staties will give an inch. It is not in their nature to compromise. But it is not a problem that the police should solve.
Don’t these cops work for someone? The last I looked we elected a governor who controls the state cops; the people of Boston elected a mayor who controls the Boston cops. Those are the two people who should work out a solution to this issue. To me the solution is clear, the primary responders to the problems at the Seaport district like those of any other neighborhood should be the Boston police. Suggesting that this is a state police jurisdiction area does not fit into the traditional idea of how our police forces work.
We need those ultimately responsible for deciding these matter to step up and act. We don’t need legislation we need leadership. We have a problem that can be solved. Let us see if those two men who wanted their jobs have the courage and ability to do this.