Boston Making “Huge Change,” Stopping Plainclothed Patrols


All 80 Boston plainclothes patrol officers will soon be ditching their jeans and T-shirts and donning uniforms in an effort to increase police visibility throughout the city and make residents feel safer, reports the Boston Globe. The new directive, which Police Commissioner Edward Davis will put into effect next week, means the officers, who have been focused on monitoring criminals and catching them in the act, will now help deter crime. “It’s a huge change in the way we view our response to crime problems,” Davis said. “Clearly in Boston the amount of visibility in the street is a great concern to the community, and we want to make sure we increase that.”

Some community leaders argue that residents are more eager to see police solve violent crimes than patrolling in uniform. “What I hear from folks is, sure the police presence is important, but there is nothing more important than getting murderers off the street, getting those who are accused of crimes convicted and sent to jail,” said Kevin Peterson of the Ella J. Baker House in Dorchester. “It’s a mixed bag as to what that change means in the community.” Criminologists agree that having uniformed officers on the street can play a powerful role in discouraging crime and developing a stronger bond between the police department and neighborhoods. “Deterrence is a matter of perception, not reality,” said James Alan Fox, a professor of criminal justice at Northeastern University. “It doesn’t matter what the actual risk of being caught is. It’s the perceived risk, and the perceived risk is very much influenced by visibility. Plainclothes cops may be able to gather the information that uniformed cops may not but, at least in terms of deterring crime, uniformed police are much better.”


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