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Boston police to open office in Bromley-Heath complex

The Boston Police Department plans to open a satellite office at the Bromley-Heath residential complex, in an effort to help stem a recent spate of violence that has left residents on edge.

The office will be the department’s only outpost at a city public housing development. It is expected to open in two to three months.

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The housing complex — located where Jamaica Plain, Mission Hill, and Roxbury converge — has long been troubled by crime. And the ­Police Department and a separate police unit for the Boston Housing Author­ity already patrol the 23.5-acre development, which houses about 3,000 residents.

But an uptick in violence over the summer alarmed residents and city officials. It prompted the BHA, which owns and manages the site, to request the satellite office, Police Department spokeswoman Cheryl Fiandaca said Friday.

“This is really what community policing is all about, having officers be more visible in the complex and to be able to engage with the community,” Fiandaca said. “This will give them more of a chance to build relationships with residents.”

She also said the location will serve as a resource for tenants of the development who want to bring any concerns they might have directly to a police officer.

During a 2½-week span in June and July, at least five people were shot in three cases in and around Bromley-Heath, authorities have said.

After that stretch, there were more reports of gunfire, along with one rape, eight robberies, and several aggravated assaults.

Last week, gunfire erupted at Bromley-Heath, and officers found several cars with bullet holes and one man bleeding from a gunshot wound in his leg, police said.

The satellite office will be at 40 Bickford St., said Lydia Agro, a spokeswoman for the Boston Housing Authority.

While the office will not have a full-time staff, Boston Police Safe Street teams will use the space to write reports, meet with community members, and raise the profile of the department.

The Police Department has about a dozen Safe Street teams in Boston that each consist of about five officers, supervised by a sergeant, who patrol on bikes and on foot and are ­assigned to high-crime areas.

A federally funded study found that areas patrolled by the Boston teams experienced a 17-percent drop in overall violent crime during the three years after the strategy’s launch in 2006.

But the number of homicides and sexual assaults did not change significantly, the study found.

Some have criticized the teams’ coverage areas and schedules as being too predictable to criminals and said some patrols do little to engage with the community.

At one time, Boston police operated a satellite office at the Bunker Hill public housing ­development in Charlestown, Fiandaca said. That office closed in 2008, when the depart­ment opened the new, full-time A-15 district station in the neighborhood.

State Representative Jeffrey Sanchez, whose district ­includes the complex, said he has been working with local author­ities to find ways to ­address problems there.

“This satellite office is part of our strategy to make sure we tackle the serious crime in Bromley-­Heath,” Sanchez said by phone Friday. “I’m happy and excited we can provide more security to tackle this challenge.”

Sanchez said events have been held recently to unite the community and to let residents know the effort to fight crime involves more than bringing in police officers and opening new offices. “It’s about working ­together as a community,” he said. “Everyone is responsible.”

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at mjrochele@gmail.com.
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