Upham's Corner Online

Neighborhood Response Team in the Dudley Triangle

January 26, 2011     Nancy J Conrad

On Tuesday, January 25 2011 Capt. John Davin, District B-2, Boston Police Department shared without the results of a seven month experiment in the Dudley Triangle that seems to be working very well to improve the neighborhood conditions, especially for the businesses.  The city of Boston has been watching the results and they decided to expand it.  The official name now given to this process is NRT or "Neighborhood Response Team."

In the very near future,  a second NRT will be established on Blue Hill Avenue from Dudley Street down to Grove Hall.  Capt. Gavin believes that if there's enough interest, a third one could be established in Upham's Corner.

The following is taken from the transcription of the SNI meeting held on January 25, 2011.

Captain Davin: 
I like to give an example of something we do in Roxbury.  The one thing we do down in Dudley triangle is we walk once a week.  We go out with community members, members who are very vocal, ISD, DPW, and others.  We actually take a walk once a week through the Dudley triangle and we point out the need for crosswalks, no parking issues, public drinking, different things like that.  And then we set a timetable.

An example is we say:  "That crosswalk, we need that.  People are going to get hit by a car.  When can you have that done?" 
Answer: "The funds aren't there right now but we could have that done in a month." 
"Okay, one month when we take our walk-through, we're to be looking at that crosswalk." 

We've been doing this now for seven months. 
  • All of the crosswalks are done. 
  • Everything down around Dudley has been power washed. 
  • The locks have been cut on the fences. 
It's something that's been very positive.  If we get enough people, get organized for it and we get the message out to City Hall, we can have them commit to walk down here [in Upham's Corner].  We can take a different walk in a different neighborhood every week. 

And that's during the day.  It's one hour.  And the key to the meeting is this. 
  • It's 100% positive. 
  • No blame and no complaints. 
  • We don't blame ISD. 
  • We don't blame DPW. 
  • We don't blame the police. 

But we get it fixed.  So far it's been working pretty well.  I try to make a point to be on every walk or another high-level police officer goes. 

I'm saying this is the only approach where you can have a person from DPW with you.  When they're held accountable on those walks, you tend to get things done. 

The business owners come out.  It gets them excited.  It gets them involved.  The business community at Dudley has increased its participation tenfold.  We're stopping into their businesses and we're telling them what we're doing. 

Sometimes they think we're crazy, with 10 people walking around.  We stop in the stores and say:

"Just to let you know, this is what were doing."  We also say: "You're invited to walk with us." 

We realize that until they see something done, they are not going to want to participate.  When they know what we're doing, they're going to want to join us.
Capt. Davin told us that the NRT effort in the Dudley Triangle was put together by a team - Joyce Stanley of the Dudley Main Street, Darrell Smith of ISD and Clayton Turnbull among others.  It was the vision of a group of neighborhood people who work towards the betterment of the Dudley Triangle.  They were willing to take a risk, putting City departments on the line and betting that everybody, working together, would be very effective.

It's a "boots on the ground" concept.  There are no theories, no meetings.  Time isn't spent in imagining what could or might not happen.  The group simply gets together, visibly walks through the neighborhood, visits the businesses almost looking like a SWAT team.  Business owners are invited to participate on the walk, to participate in sharing their vision.

Once a business owner realizes s/he can make a difference in the wider community and not have to remain focused on the inside of their four walls, the momentum grows.  And so does the sense of community.
The neighborhood response team concept is not a new concept to Boston.  It appears to have been operative in Dorchester and Mattapan in 2006.  There are also cities nationwide that use neighborhood response teams extensively.
  1. Columbia, Missouri the Neighborhood Response Team was formed in 1999
  2. Sacramento, California has a neighborhood response team
  3. Under Darrell Smith of ISD, the City of Boston had an NRT covering Dorchester and Mattapan in 2006.


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