Police Lights: Crime Deterrent or Neighborhood Irritant?
For the past several weeks BPD cruisers have been posted in various “hot spots” throughout the communities of Boston. In the neighborhood of so-called “H-Block” Humboldt Ave and the surrounding areas this has manifested in a cruiser nightly stationed at the corner of Humboldt Ave. and Ruthven St. with blue lights flashing from the evening until midnight. I personally asked an officer in the cruiser what the purpose of the flashing lights was and the officer stated “To deter the violence that has been occurring in the neighborhood,” indeed a noble goal. My question however is one of community policing where a cruiser is seated outside of residential dwellings with multiple residents with full blue lights blaring into the wee hours. Surely, this must be disturbing residents whose homes are permeated every night with a disco-style strobe-like blue night special courtesy of the BPD. I have seen these lights from a distance of several blocks and it has been disconcerting, I can only imagine what it would be like if these lights were parked directly outside my home and I can expect that homes with elderly or small children would find these lights disruptive, scary and ominous.
Of course we want to combat violence in the neighborhoods but as shootings are sporadic and unpredictable, the blue lights are consistent and overwhelming. This is not a case of lights or shootings. The shootings must be addressed, however many in the community are questioning the balance between a crime deterrent and a neighborhood irritant.