CPD warns of seasonal crimes

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
Capt. Justin Todd spoke Friday about the work of Cambridge Police Department officers. In addition to their regular duties, Capt. Todd and other officers are sporting beards for “No-Shave November,” raising funds in support of cancer research.

CAMBRIDGE — “This time of year, we always get an influx of thefts,” Capt. Justin Todd said Friday. He was speaking during a conversation on the work and challenges of the Cambridge Police Department, illustrated by an unexpected event.
While waiting to enter headquarters on Washington Street, a visitor noticed three officers hurry out of the building, one wearing a bullet-proof vest over his shirt. Another ran to his car, took his own vest out, and then ran to the van with the others officers. The vehicle left the parking lot.

Shortly afterwards, Capt. Todd, in full uniform, left the building, got in his car and drove away.
He soon returned, greeted his visitor and explained, “They were doing a felony stop. I just went over to make sure everything was ok.”

A man wanted on a weapon violation was reported by a witness to be leaving another town and heading to Cambridge. The CPD officers picked him up without incident.

Just another day on the job.

It took place because a citizen had made a report, something Capt. Todd said is important in law enforcement. “If you see something, say something,” he said.

That can apply to issues such as car break-ins, often committed by juveniles, which occur commonly during the holiday season. Capt. Todd said, “Usually it’s the West End area,” for this type of crime, because some streets there are dark, and provide hiding places.

Locked doors and items stored in the trunk are good ways to foil thefts of this nature. Capt. Todd said thieves simply walk along a street, “popping door handles,” looking for one that is unlocked. Quick access allows them to grab anything of value and be on their way.

Officers fight this by patrolling streets and looking for groups of juveniles out late at night. “They’ll be stopped,” he said, and officers will record their names and addresses — if they live on the other side of town, that’s a clue that there might be more going on than a late walk on a school night.

But stopping juveniles and asking for personal information can also cause friction in the community, Capt. Todd acknowledged. What might follow is a phone call from a parent, demanding to know why his or her child was stopped.

“It’s our duty” to investigate, he said, noting that the questions might also stop a crime from occurring in the first place.

The CPD is working short-handed, down about five officers. Capt. Todd said recent pay raises seem to be helping with retention, especially of the younger policemen and women.

And they are getting results. “Crime was down 29 percent last year,” he said, adding that it looks like that will be maintained in 2019.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is the first in an on-going series, in which Capt. Todd will share news, goals and challenges of the Cambridge Police Department.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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