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I read with some interest the article [“Unease lingers a year after manhunt,’’ Globe West March 9] about the residents of Watertown who seemed to think the search for the Marathon bombers in their city was somehow heavy handed or “unconstitutional.”

I retired from the Boston Police Department on April 30, 2013, officially. Unofficially, as a member of the Boston Police Critical Incident Support Team, I have then and to this day am still helping officers who were at the scene in Boston and/or in Cambridge and Watertown.

As must be explained to lay people, these situations are fluid and even the best training will never prepare you for what was unfolding last April despite what people on the outside think.


The people in this story complained about having to stay in their homes and being intimidated by “big scary men in black with guns” (I’m sure our female officers who were involved would take exception to that characterization). Apparently since no one, let alone the residents of Laurel Street, knew where or even if Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was still in the area, I suppose a cursory search of the area while explaining police tactics to each and every neighbor would suffice in their minds.

Lastly, as to the issue of PTSD, speak to the officers who were at the finish line who ran toward the explosion to help the victims while not knowing if there was a secondary device. Speak to the officers who had to guard a gigantic crime scene for days on end. Sit down with those officers who responded in Cambridge and had to view the body of MIT Officer Sean Collier, who was murdered . . . without a chance to defend himself. Have a cup of coffee with the officers that were dodging bullets fired at them and bombs thrown at them. Listen to a combat veteran who’s been deployed multiple times about the trauma that they still carry with them to this day.


That is PTSD, you were inconvenienced: Recognize the difference, let the professionals do their jobs, and keep your second guessing to yourselves.

James “Larry” Brown

Boston Police Dept. (retired)