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New South Boston police captain works to win over neighborhood

Posted by Cara Bayles  June 9, 2011 01:01 PM

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Three weeks into his new post, South Boston's new police captain is taking steps to win over neighborhood residents.

Captain John Greland, who heads C-6 district, introduced himself to the Andrew Square Civic Association last night and answered questions about his plans for the neighborhood, including addressing crime at the Andrew Square MTBA station.

He told residents he has been working with Lieutenant Commander William Fleming of the MBTA police about teaming up to fight crime at the station.

Home to a Red Line stop and seven bus routes, the station saw a quadrupling of reported incidents last year, the most dramatic increase in crime of all the T stations, according to police data. With 22 serious crimes, including 14 robberies and two assaults, Andrew reported the eighth-highest incidence of serious crime among T stops in 2010.

Greland also vowed to continue the work of his predecessor, Captain Richard Evans, who was beginning to work with Andrew Square's neighboring methadone clinics, and was developing strategies similar to those Evan employed to address drug dealing near the Broadway MBTA station.

Drugs have been a concern in the neighborhood, including an incident when police never responded to calls about a drug deal that South Boston resident Dennis Conway said he witnessed on West Fifth and F Street.

Conway, who said he called police at 6:25 p.m. and watched several drug deals take place over the course of 45 minutes, reported the lack of police response in a letter to elected officials and to Police Commissioner Edward Davis, who had visited South Boston at a large community meeting a month earlier.

"You may also recall that at the City Point Neighborhood Association Meeting I spoke highly in regards as to the job that Captain Evans and his staff do on a day to day basis in our community," Conway wrote. "However, at this moment in time I am having difficulty trying to reason why it is that I followed the instructions of our police department and called the station directly, only to be passed off into the 911 dispatch, and then not see any response at all to the very valid call that I made."

Conway said Davis called him to thank him for his letter, and vowed that immediate changes were in the works.

Greland said after the meeting that he was "very familiar" with the incident and with Conway's complaint, but that the lack of response was not the fault of District 6.

"The call was never dispatched," he said. "It was a problem in operations, and I'm sure that's been addressed."

Greland is also well aware of the drug concerns in the neighborhood, where the abuse of opiates and heroin is 20 percent higher than the rate for the entire city.

He said that during the recent business breakfast at Mount Washington Bank, he was approached by an elderly gentleman who demanded to know what he was going to do about drugs and public drinking in Medal of Honor Park.

About a week later, Greland assigned several officers to patrol the park. They apprehended a group of 16 youths who were drinking, he said. They will be sent to a diversion program through the Gavin Foundation, and the incident will not go on their criminal records.

"The plan was to go up and send the message real quick," said Greland, who previoiusly was stationed in South Boston as a patrolman and as a lieutenant, and most recently was the captain of Jamaica Plain's E-13 District..

Residents seemed impressed with Greland so far.

"He already knows the concerns of the community, and that's very comforting," Linda Zablocki, president of the Andrew Square Civic Association, said after the meeting.

As Greland left the meeting, she presented him with an Andrew Square Civic Association T-shirt, as a welcome present.

"And we wanna see it on you," she said.

E-mail Cara Bayles at carabayles@gmail.com.

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