On a brisk day in late January, Braintree Village residents came home to an unusual sight: a letter taped to their front doors saying they would be seeing a lot more of the Braintree police.
The area has been familiar for years with the Braintree Police Department. Cruisers roam the winding road between the development’s 25 buildings on a regular basis, and an assigned officer takes special note of the area in his weekly shift.
But after two recent stabbings in less than a week — one on Jan. 18 and another on Jan. 22 — the police are about to have a more prominent presence.
“These incidents . . . are not acceptable to us as a community and will not be tolerated,” Mayor Joseph Sullivan said in a phone interview a few days after the January crimes. “So we met with the property management group, Peabody Properties, yesterday morning and had a forthright and important conversation about taking every step we can to ensure that activity such as this is not welcomed and will be dealt with in a swift manner.”
High-profile crimes such as stabbings are rare, but Braintree police said crime in the neighborhoods of both Braintree Village and nearby Skyline Drive Apartments — also managed by Peabody Properties — is not unusual.
According to Police Chief Russell Jenkins, the department gets an average of about 10 calls a week for Braintree Village, with its 324 apartments, and a few less for the 240 apartments at Skyline Drive.
Calls range from domestic violence to assault to drug dealing to petty theft, with no one type standing out more than the others. And although crime affects all neighborhoods, police say they see more action in Braintree Village and Skyline Drive, which are located near the Weymouth line, than elsewhere in town.
“Without a doubt, they do have — if you take it as a neighborhood — that area of town has a higher incidence of calls for service than other parts of town,” Jenkins said.
The reasons for the higher rate of crime are up for debate, but officials note a large population of mixed-income residents in a small area.
“You have 1,000 people living [in those neighborhoods], many people who qualify for financial assistance for housing,” Sullivan said. “It’s a neighborhood that we have had issues [with] in the past and we’re going to take every step to see that those who want to be good citizens can make a contribution to the community . . . and those, like in any neighborhood, who do not want to be law- abiding are going to be dealt with.”
Whatever the reason, property managers say they have been working to combat the crime for some time.
In a letter to the town, Rob Crowley, vice president of operations for Peabody Properties, outlined Braintree Village’s Building Bridges program, an initiative funded by a state grant that helps develop on-site activities for youth.
“These efforts not only establish positive relationships, it’s also an avenue for the youth to get involved in programs and ultimately gives them options other than the streets; a core fundamental belief of our management practices,” the letter states.
The Tenant Association of Braintree Village has coordinated community gatherings, such as holiday parties, to develop a sense of camaraderie and neighborhood pride.
The town has also developed its share of initiatives in the neighborhoods.
Since the new form of government in 2008, Braintree has dedicated an officer to do community outreach in both Braintree Village and Skyline Drive, with the hope that a familiar face would encourage cooperation with police as well as discourage illegal activity.
That officer recently retired, and Juvenile Officer Jamie Mosesso has been hired as a replacement.
“These two neighborhoods are areas of town where we’ve done a significant amount of outreach in terms of communication. Not only police visibility, but conversations [with property managers], and I think for the most part it’s been a productive approach,” Sullivan said.
Property managers say that Skyline Drive, like Braintree Village, will have a renewed focus on evicting troublesome tenants.
At Braintree Village, there also will be a marked increase in police activity, Sullivan said.
Management officials said they are cooperating with the enhanced approach.
Braintree Village plans to review its tenant selection system, specifically related to criminal screening. The neighborhood will also look into license plate/security camera technology for the entrances and exits of the buildings. Police will also be given a space on the campus where officers can do investigations, meet with residents, and review reports.
“The recent actions of the specific residents involved reached elevated levels, causing great concern for all of us, and we take this very seriously,” Crowley wrote. “These select individuals make up a very small percentage of the overall majority that are lease-compliant residents . . . and we will not tolerate or let the actions of a few dictate the community.”
Mosesso also has high hopes for increased police presence.
“If someone sees a cruiser, no matter what other people say, it is going to have an impact on the criminal activity,” Mosesso said. “People will say, ‘Police are in the area, they always are, why should we chance doing something risky?’ The reinforcement of our presence is huge.”
Increased police presence has worked in other areas of Braintree that have typically seen pockets of illegal activity, such as the South Shore Plaza and Motel 6 areas, Mosesso said. “I believe [increased police presence has] had a very positive impact on the crime down there.”
For some Braintree Village residents, like Mark Smith, the new policies are a welcome change.
“I make sure I lock my car,” said Smith, who has lived in the complex for two years. “Where I used to live I didn’t worry about locking my car, in Quincy. Now I make it a concern to know my door is locked . . . I think the most crime in Braintree is in this apartment complex. I don’t know if it is or not, but that’s how I feel.”
Others, such as Bonita Quick, were glad to know there would be more police in the area, but did not feel that crime was that big a problem.
“For someone who comes from Boston — Roxbury — this is actually pretty quiet for me. But I guess there is always something in every neighborhood,” Quick said.