Commissioner hears student concerns

by Beacon Staff • February 22, 2006

As students came to the microphone and expressed their fears-which centered around the increase in drug dealers, prostitutes and other vagrants who seem to be crowding our campus-O'Toole listened.,Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole stopped by campus this week and spent more than an hour answering questions and listening to student concerns about area safety.

As students came to the microphone and expressed their fears-which centered around the increase in drug dealers, prostitutes and other vagrants who seem to be crowding our campus-O'Toole listened.

While it may not seem like much, the fact that the police commissioner of a city of about 600,000 people would take time to visit a college of 3,500 students, shows that she is serious about reaching out to the community.

The Boston Police Department (BPD), as Emerson students know painfully well, is not perfect. But since the case of the accidental shooting death of Victoria Snelgrove has been closed, it seems that the commissioner has been making an effort to get in touch with the city and its residents.

The BPD does not have the officers it needs to keep the city safe. O'Toole said violent and juvenile crime are on the rise, and 85 percent of the city's violent crimes happen in Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan.

In District A1, which includes Chinatown and downtown, there has been a visible increase in crime, often reported on by The Berkeley Beacon.

To hear students say "you can't feel safe here" is disheartening.

After months of violence and little reaction, it is encouraging to see that the college's administration took student concerns seriously and invited O'Toole to speak. It is even more heartening that she accepted.

Although the meeting offered few solutions, the fact that students were able to voice their concerns to the head of the BPD should make us all feel a little better.

There is no quick fix to the violence that has been plaguing the city as of late, but if we continue to update the department and keep them informed, we might see some positive changes in the future.

This is the least the BPD can do in order to safeguard the tens of thousands of college students who call Boston their home.