The City Council approved a measure by at-large Councilor Steve Murphy to hold a hearing on a proposed state law that would let Boston police officers respond to calls in what has become one of Boston's fastest growing neighborhoods. H.2107, sponsored by state Rep. Nick Collins (D-South Boston), would give Boston Police joint jurisdiction in the area.
The state legislature gave State Police jurisdiction over Massport land along the water in South Boston in 1996, when the area consisted mainly of docks and parking lots. But with the area now crowded with offices, residences and construction sites of more offices and residents, local officials say confusion over who residents and visitors should call is causing problems.
Council President Bill Linehan said that in cases of domestic violence, for example, the BPD will respond to a call but once the matter is taken to court, it will get thrown out because the officer did not have jurisdiction. "Perpetrators get off because of that one detail," he said.
"[State Police jurisdiction] was put in place with the unique situation of the airport," Linehan said. "That's no longer the case. People live there."
Murphy, chairman of the council's public-safety committee, said the matter has appeared before the Massachusetts house three times before and is currently in the Legislature's Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.
Murphy turned to Charles Dickens to express his frustration, saying, "the Law is an ass." Councilor Matt O'Malley (West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain) added Voltaire's words, "Common sense is not so common." Councilor Josh Zakim (Back Bay, Fenway, Beacon Hill, Mission Hill) added, "I don't have any good literary quotes but I fully align myself with what's already been said."