Police Relations

Top of the Day to all,

What is your opinion of the police? Are they good guys or not? Have your experiences been positive or negative?

Why is there such disparity in police relations around the country?

What can we do to improve police/community relations or is the job of law enforcement in inherent conflict with good community relations?

Are police/community relations better in an affluent community and worse is a less affluent community? If so, why?

Any thoughts?

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7 Comments on "Police Relations"

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Jerry Reilly
My limited experience with Newton police over the six years I’ve been here have been uniformly good. My experience with Boston police previous to coming to Newton was much less so. Over the years my brother has done a lot of criminal trial work as a lawyer. He told me that it has always been striking to him that juries in Boston vs juries in the suburbs are like night and day when it comes to their attitude toward the police. In the suburbs the citizenry nearly always assume the police are dealing in good faith while in Boston there’s often widespread, deep seated suspicion of the police and their testimony. I think that there”s nothing inherent in the job of law enforcement that is in conflict with good community relationship. There is something though in the job of law enforcement that opens up all sorts of possibilities for bad community relationships – power. Very real and very personal power over other citizens is built into the job. I think the bigger the police department and the city is, the harder it becomes to make sure that power doesn’t get abused in a whole variety of ways – everything from petty corruption, “testilying”, unequal treatment of citizens based on personal prejudices, and just plain incompetence, etc. While there are both good and bad police departments of all sizes and demographics, I do think medium sized towns tend to have better police departments and affluent towns do as well since the… Read more »
Sallee Lipshutz
Disclaimer: In the 1960’s my Dad was Police and Fire Surgeon in Trenton, New Jersey. I have always thought of police and fire personnel as respected and respectable public servants who have a difficult and dangerous job to perform. The only legal infraction that I have knowingly committed in a long lifetime has been disposing of cigarette butts on the ground during that part of my life when I was stupidly smoking. I may also have occasionally lazily thrown recyclable substances into the trash! No car chases, no drug deals, no murder activities. BORING, I know. But also no reason for clashes with the guys and gals in Blue and their colleagues with high pressure hoses. But I am white, middle-class, and employed, living in a community largely the same. If I were a member of a largely unemployed minority culture, living in a gang-driven society dependent on drug monies for prestige, power and survival, my opinion would likely differ. And a policeman working in that environment might be a lot more capable of accusing, suspecting or arresting me wrongly for misdeeds I did not commit. It has always bothered me that pre-judging (aka profiling) seems to be one of the tools of policing that is difficult to control. In my personal experience, I am astounded that, since I moved here in 1972, I have seen multiple traffic stops of black citizens on Route 9 in Wellesley, but NEVER of white drivers. I have even heard people refer to that… Read more »
Mark Marderosian

In all these years, my interactions with police officers in Newton has been fine, due to their consistent professional and helpful manner.
I LOVE to drive. And in all these decades, the only two moving violations I have ever received came from Wellesley. Forget it, they are a little too aggressive for my comfort. When I visit my sister I now drive the Mass PIke up to Route 9 and then come down through Framingham, and catch her house right on the cusp of the town line. I refuse to drive straight through Wellesley to her house any longer.

Sallee Lipshutz

WEIRD…I visited the Upper Falls Neighborhood Area Council meeting tonight and the very first item on their agenda was a talk about the Police Department. The talk was given by Newton’s newest Chief of Police, David MacDonald! A son of Upper Falls and a Newton South grad, his vision for Newton includes addressing the mental health needs of Newton residents, preventing opioid overdosing, strengthening community relationships and rebuilding a police force that had fallen victim to budget tightening, suffering a severe reduction in numbers over the last decades . I was able to catch him on the way out and he promised to visit the Waban Area Council, too. I’ll be sure to let you know when!

Vanessa Allen

I appreciate NPD. I have witnessed and heard of many cases of extremely rude and disrespectful and entitled behavior toward NPD. I think this is pretty disappointing. If each newton resident could acknowledge the privilege of being able to be openly disrespectful to the local police deptarment – I think a lot of ah ha moments would happen from that.

Julia Malakie

My encounters with the Newton Police have left me somewhat bemused, but believing that they are very thorough. A couple of years ago maybe, I was driving home from work in Lowell late at night, and pulled into the Auburndale Hess station on Comm Ave to tweet about the humongous perpetual gas leak on the bridge over 128 that had either returned after an absence, or was particularly bad that night. I’d no sooner pulled in, than a police car pulled in behind me and the officer wanted to know why I was there. “Um, it seemed like the safest place to use my phone?” I don’t know if he thought I was going to rob the place or what, but I had to move along.

And a couple of years earlier, another Newton Tree Conservancy director, male, also white and in his 50s, and I were looking at tree planting spots and measuring berms on Freeman Street, and a cruiser came by to check us out because someone thought we might be the Auburndale burglars. We had to show our drivers licenses. So I feel fairly comfortable that they don’t racially profile.

Janet Sterman

I feel for our women and men in blue with the ridiculous ordinances devised by the city council/aldermen. I support Newton’s police force!

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