BOSTON — Lawmakers are requesting that law enforcement conduct warrant enforcement in the area that some refer to as ‘ground zero’ of Boston’s opioid epidemic.
A letter, addressed to Colonel John J. Mawn, Jr. and Commissioner Michael Cox, addresses the urgent need for an immediate intervention.
“The status quo is not addressing the ongoing humanitarian crisis and inaction will only further entrench the level of criminal activity in the area and risk further harm to the most vulnerable,” it states.
The letter is signed by Senator Nick Collins, Congressman Stephen Lynch, Representative David Biele, Councilor Frank Baker, Councilor Michael Flaherty, Councilor Erin Murphy, and City Council President Ed Flynn.
“We’re calling for warrant enforcement for those that are criminally involved,” said Senator Nick Collins. “We know thousands with outstanding warrants, and we’re asking to prioritize those with a history of violence, human trafficking and drug trafficking.”
Collins and other lawmakers are also for civil commitments to get people into treatment in certain cases. “We can intervene civilly, and that’s going to be a key part of this,” explained Collins. “There’s no wrestling match. There are no medieval weapons.”
A new report from the State Department of Public Health shows an average of 50 people have been overdosing every week in Boston this year.
“I don’t understand how it got so bad,” said Linda Winn, who regularly visits the Mass and Cass corridor. “One girl was 16 out here the other day and her mother shot her up with drugs.”
Winn said the people that have been descending on the area this summer have come from not just across the region but across the country.
“I know one girl [from] South Carolina, Florida, Cali. They say, go to Boston,” she said. “You can’t house everybody.”
The overflowing crowd has been straining Boston Police and Boston EMS resources.
Police have seized bats, knives, and metal pipes in recent weeks, and people have claimed they needed those weapons for self-defense.
Non-emergency calls, like loitering and vandalism, have been keeping private security patrols busy around the clock.
The Newmarket Business Improvement District deployed its own security team last July to address quality-of-life issues.
Since then, they’ve responded to more than 30,000 incidents in a roughly one-square-mile area.
“Our metrics for the security are showing, this year, incidents are way above what they were last year,” said Ben Murphy, Senior Program Manager with the Newmarket Business Improvement District. “Calls are coming in very frequently.”
Newmarket’s 24/7 security team responded to a total of 1,844 incidents last month alone.