Boston police discuss Chinatown public safety
By Sherrie Choong
The Asian Community Development Corporation organized a public safety awareness workshop for Chinatown residents on Sept. 7 at the Metropolitan Community Room. It was conducted by Boston District A1 police officer Sgt. Tom Lema, who has worked the Chinatown district for 18 years.
Lema stated there were four major public safety issues involving Chinatown. The first problem was the homeless population surrounding Chinatown. Boston has 6,800 homeless people in the city, or 5 percent of the population. This poses an problem for Chinatown, which is sandwiched between three shelters: the Pine Street Inn, St. Francis House and the Mission Safe House. Most of these shelters do not allow the homeless to stay in the facilities during daytime, and requires them to be back before 7 p.m. to join the lottery for a bed space. Many of the homeless individuals will be around Chinatown searching for food and shelter in the day.
The second problem is quality of life involving noise and traffic. Chinatown is a popular tourist spot. It is surrounded by pubs and is the only neighborhood that has restaurants operating until 4 a.m., attracting more visitors to the neighborhood. With rich nightlife around Chinatown and eateries open late, noise is inevitable.
The third issue Chinatown faces is elderly fraud, where strangers approach the elderly and cheat them of their savings. These scam artists claim to have the person’s relatives in custody unless a ransom is paid. At least three seniors have been victimized. Lema told the public to beware of strangers and to never give out personal information.
“Never trust anyone on the street who wants to talk to you about your family or finances,” Lema said. “If you don’t know them, they should have no idea about your family or your financial situation.”
Lema said 911calls are not just for emergencies. He encouraged the public to call 911 if they witness any petty wrongdoing, such as homeless people sleeping on the street or public urination.
On personal safety, Lema told the audience members to scream “Fire!” instead of “Help!” when in danger. This is often because people are too afraid to do anything when they hear screams for help. However, people look out their windows when someone shouts “Fire,” increasing your chances of being assisted.
This post is also available in: Chinese