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Brockton

Police chief has big plans to make city safer

Dozens of new faces will join the Brockton Police Department’s detective unit in coming days, part of a new, specialized task force assembled to help get a handle on crime.

The newcomers will not be Brockton officers, Acting Police Chief Robert Hayden said, but rather a phalanx of state and federal officers and agents, including those from the Plymouth district attorney’s office and the FBI, working collaboratively with current officers in-house and on the street several days a week.

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It is part of Mayor Bill Carpenter’s sweeping anticrime initiative, his campaign promise, to get criminals off the street.

Hayden, 71, is a former Boston police commander, Lawrence police chief, and undersecretary of public safety for Massachusetts. He helped to design Carpenter’s plan and came out of retirement last month to implement it.

Carpenter said he is impressed that Hayden was able to rally so many agencies so quickly.

“I think this shows the type of respect Bob Hayden commands now, and has gotten, throughout his 30-plus years in law enforcement,” Carpenter said. “The relationships he has built throughout his career will be incredibly valuable for the city as we move forward.”

Carpenter is hoping to get City Council support to name Hayden as a civilian police commissioner in the coming days. If the answer is yes, he would serve for a year and help choose Brockton’s new chief.

‘Once we show the bullies we are aware of them, things will start to get better.’

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The job Carpenter is working to create is a one-shot deal that sunsets after 12 months. In that time, if Hayden is appointed, he is expected to make a big dent in crime and to boost both the city’s image and morale among the department’s officers, the mayor said.

Councilor Thomas Monahan of Ward 2 said that he is all for trying new strategies, but that it will not alter the city’s core issue for policing.

“I think the biggest problem is the lack of men,’’ he said. “We need to get more police on the job, and that takes money. When this state continues to give less and less, especially to old manufacturing cities like Brockton, it makes it harder to have fully staffed police, fire, and other departments.”

Brockton’s 95,000 residents are safer than those in only 12 percent of the nation’s other cities, according to Neighborhood Scout, a website with national crime statistics from the FBI and the US Census.

Boston, by comparison, is safer than 15 percent of other US cities, Quincy is safer than 42 percent of them, and Duxbury is safer than 90 percent of the country’s other communities, according to the website.

In 2012, the most recent year for which figures are available, Brockton reported six homicides, 48 rapes, 225 robberies, and 809 assaults, according to the site.

However, said Hayden, “I don’t look at crime rates.’’

He said he judges a department’s work by how safe people appear to feel in their own homes and neighborhoods.

“After I’m here for a month, I’ll either get a good feeling or I won’t,’’ he said. “If I see a mother and father outside pushing a baby carriage down the street, I’ll know I’m doing something good.’’

Members of the new task force, who will be paid by their own agencies, will answer to Brockton police Lieutenants Paul Bonanca and Kenny LeGice, Hayden said. The task force includes representatives from the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department and district attorney’s office; the MBTA; State Police; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Secret Service; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the Department of Homeland Security; and the FBI.

Some members have stepped in at one time or another to assist Brockton’s 200-member department, Hayden said. “But it was a fragmented partnership, where one group didn’t know what the other was doing,” he said. Cohesion was missing.

Now, the group will work “shoulder to shoulder,’’ he said, and its members will try to eliminate turf issues “so that it won’t matter who contributes to an arrest.’’

First on the agenda is an effort to target gangs, drugs, and criminal activity in the illegal immigrant community, Hayden said.

While the task force is focused on that, a new motorcycle patrol will roll out citywide, he said. Small patrols led by a supervisor and followed by a wagon, if arrests are necessary, will offer a high-profile police presence, but will not act like an “occupying army,’’ Hayden said; the operation will be well organized and in control, and use the “broken windows” approach.

“There is a saying that if you take care of the little things, [like broken windows], the other things take care of themselves,’’ he said. “Once we show the bullies we are aware of them, things will start to get better.”

Police will definitely be looking for people, Hayden said. “But they will only be arrested if they have committed a crime.”

Michele Morgan Bolton can be reached at michelebolton@
live.com
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