"Tenants slam role of private police; Contend officers intimidate, abuse their authority" by Maria Cramer, Globe Staff | September 1, 2008
One woman said the private police officer patrolling her housing complex used chemical spray on her 12-year-old daughter after a July 4th confrontation.
A Dorchester teenager said the officers, known as "special police officers," threatened to arrest her and her friends if they did not leave the sidewalk where they had gathered for an impromptu vigil commemorating a dead friend.
A tenant organizer in Grove Hall said one special police officer mistook a man for a prowler and reduced him to tears, after forbidding him entry to his apartment, even though he had shown his identification card and house key.
More than 200 of these security officers patrol private housing complexes, hospitals, and universities around Boston. They are licensed by Boston police and contracted by private management companies that pay for the benefit of private security.
But some residents, lawyers, and tenant organizers say the officers often abuse their authority and intimidate teenagers on public streets. They have created a climate of mistrust and fear, some residents and tenant supporters say.
Hey, that's a BENEFIT, complainers (sig heil)!
"I hate living here," Toya Calloway, a 44-year-old mother of eight who lives in Harbor Point in Dorchester, which is patrolled by Longwood Security Services. "I feel like I'm being watched."
Then you probably are!!!!
Special police officers have many of the same powers as city police. They can carry guns, make arrests, and search people they suspect of committing a crime.
Security officers also enforce trespass orders issued by the management companies that run housing complexes. Those orders are issued if a visitor had been caught doing anything from drinking in public to assault. But defense attorneys representing some who have been charged with trespassing say management companies often issue orders arbitrarily.
"People are being harassed, stopped, searched, and really for walking down the street," said Cora Vestal, a public defender with the Committee for Public Counsel Services. She said she has a growing list of clients who have been stopped in private complexes by officers from Alliance Detective and Security Inc. and New World Security Associates.
Ceredo Dean, a resident of Mission Main, a housing complex in Roxbury, said her neighbor's 22-year-old son was recently stopped and frisked twice in the same day, because New World officers were looking for a Hispanic man involved in a fight.
"I go to a lot of community meetings and I hear these things and it's very concerning to me," she said. "Who's going to be next? Grown men with jobs can't even sit on their front stoop without being harassed."
One recent incident in particular has increased tensions at Harbor Point. On July 4, Toya Calloway's 22-year-old daughter Shekasia was watching fireworks with friends near her mother's home. Longwood officers approached them, asked whether they were setting off fireworks, and - without asking permission - took their bag, she said. They found two bottles of Courvoisier, she said, emptying one and throwing the other into the water. A Harbor Point official later said it was a state trooper who threw out the liquor.
Later that night, the dispute escalated, according to a police report. Toya Calloway confronted the officers, who said that they were then pushed and kicked by some family members - an assertion Calloway denied. The officers used pepper spray on Toya and another daughter, who was 12, according to the report. Toya Calloway was arrested and charged with assault and battery on an officer; Shekasia was charged with disorderly conduct.
All for your own protection, AmeriKa!!