EDITORIAL: A simple tool to combat crime

There’s nothing terribly groundbreaking about the new e-mail alert system that Dorchester City Councillor Frank Baker rolled out last month. In fact, e-mail has been used in a piecemeal way for years in parts of Dorchester to help arm neighbors with close-to-real-time info on crime incidents. The Reporter helped to roll out the first ones in Savin Hill, Codman Square, and the Florida Street Corridor in 2005.

But, Baker — following through on a campaign pledge made last year— is helping to get many more people engaged in a district-wide system that is streamlined and managed by his office. That’s a development that deserves praise and more participants.

It’s really a simple idea: Get accurate and timely crime information from Boston Police, simplify it into an e-mail format, and forward it — through block captains— to anyone who wants to see it regularly.
Earlier this year, Baker assigned one of his staffers, Joe MacEachern, to honcho the project. In recent weeks, Baker and his staff have identified more than 30 new captains who will disseminate regular e-mails to neighbors who want them.

It just makes sense: You want to know about the housebreak two streets over as soon as possible. You shouldn’t have to wait for the next civic meeting or a chance encounter with a friend or neighbor to get the news. Baker’s e-mail system cuts down on that wait time and gives people a realistic picture of what’s happening.

More information is available by e-mailing Baker’s office at frank.baker@cityofboston.gov. “Whoever wants to involved, the more the merrier,” Baker told the Reporter last week.
– Bill Forry

Helping out – outdoors
If you’re looking for a good reason to spend some extra time outside this month, there are ample opportunities in and around the neighborhood to help out — outside.

On next Saturday, April 21, the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation and Boston Natural Areas Network will lead a team of volunteers to plant crabapple trees at Pope John Paul II Park in Neponset. The serve-day event starts at 9 a.m. at the Hallet Street entrance to the park. Gloves, tools, snacks, and water will be provided.

The Nightingale Community Gardeners will host a similar tree-planting session over two days in honor of Arbor Day: Friday and Saturday, April 27 and 28, from 9 a.m. to noon each day. The community garden is located at 512 Park Street in Dorchester. See bostonnatural.org for more info on both of these events.

The city of Boston is organizing clean-ups across the city for the weekend of April 27-28. The Boston Shines event — now in its tenth year— attracts some 5,000 volunteers annually, according to Mayor Menino’s office. Groups who want to put together a team— and individuals looking to join a cleanup site— should check out the list online at cityofboston.gov/ons/bostonshines/.

The Boston Transportation Department will also arrange for the free towing of junk vehicles from private property as part of Boston Shines this year. Residents can call the Mayor’s 24-hour Hotline at 617-635-4500 to make arrangements.

Folks in Mattapan are getting a jump on the spring cleaning efforts this year. The Mattapan Patriots Pop Warner program and the Cummins Valley Neighborhood Association are planning a clean-up of Mattapan Square on next Saturday, April 21 from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. See MattapanPatriots.com for more info.

The Dorchester Park Association will also stage a spring cleaning on April 21 from 9 a.m. to noon. Meet at the Adams Street entrance of the park.

– Bill Forry

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