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|June 26, 2008
Director of Communications
OFFICERS TEAM UP WITH BOSTON POLICE
ON OPERATION COMMON CURE
During a recent heat wave, a throng of Probation
Officers moved through crowds of people milling about Downtown
Crossing attracting the stares and double-takes of shoppers,
businessmen and women and young people-- in their cool
stance-- hanging out with their friends.
As the probation officers, wearing variations
of shirts and vests with the words “PROBATION” emblazoned
on them, settled at the corner of Washington and Winter
streets, some pedestrians hurried by, sneaking a peak.
Several of the teens left the group and walked up Washington
Street away from the probation contingent. In the midst
of this, one of the probation officers immediately spotted
However, before being approached, the red-haired
man walked over to the probation officer and engaged in
a conversation about staying away from alcohol and staying
on the right side of the law. Another probationer, a sex
offender, did not wait to be recognized either. He walked
over, identified himself to one of the probation officers
and began to explain why he had not checked in with his
“Being visible is the best deterrent
to crime,” said Mark McHale, Suffolk County Regional
Supervisor for the Massachusetts Probation Service. “We
recognize the offenders, know their social history and
their family background.”
Area A-1 Police Lieutenant Sean Feeney said
he appreciates the information that Probation Officers
are able to provide on court-involved individuals as well
as their hands-on approach to interacting with probationers.
“There is a huge number of offenders
who are not known to us. When they see a probation officer,
they are scared because they know that they can be brought
before the court and sent to jail. Without the information
Probation Officers are able to provide, they are not scared
because they are hiding behind the cloak of anonymity,” said
Feeney. “Probation officers remove the anonymity.”
This version of Probation’s “Operation
NiteLite,” a program which pairs probation officers
with police, is a biweekly patrol and collaborative effort
of the Massachusetts Probation Service and the Area A-1
Precinct of the Boston Police Department which includes
the Theater District, Downtown Crossing, Chinatown, Back
Bay, the West End, and Charlestown.
The effort is referred to as “Common
Cure,” because it also includes a foot patrol of
the Boston Common, an area that has seen an increase in
violence and drug activity.
The Probation team on this particular evening
includes Ahn Vu, First Assistant Chief Probation Officer
at BMC-West Roxbury; Diane Barrett Moeller, Probation Officer
II at BMC-South Boston; David F. Giacalone, BMC-West Roxbury;
Kevin Johnson, BMC-East Boston; Jerome Ledbetter, Suffolk
Superior; Mary J. London, BMC-East Boston; Francine Hamersley,
BMC-East Boston; Elizabeth Davis, Suffolk Juvenile; Sharon
Downey Hasrouni, Suffolk Juvenile; Tony Gully, BMC-Roxbury
Chief Probation Officer; Tom Lally, BMC-Central Assistant
Chief Probation Officer; and Mark McHale, Suffolk County
Several of the probation officers break off
into separate groups. Four of the probation officers head
south down Washington Street towards Chinatown and the
Theatre District while a smaller group remains at Downtown
Crossing where they scan the faces of the crowd and passers-by.
South Boston Probation Officer Dianne Barrett Moeller engages
in a conversation with a motorcycle police officer as they
talk about the last patrol they were on together.
In Chinatown, the group spots a woman, who
is on probation for trespassing, in the very area she is
banned from. Caught off guard with a look of astonishment
on her face, she hurries along her way after a stern warning.
A few blocks away, back at Downtown Crossing,
Tony Gully, Chief Probation Officer of BMC-Roxbury, describes
the area as “Switzerland, because of its neutrality.”
“You will find people from all over
(the city and suburbs) here. This is where they all congregate,” Gully
“This type of weather gives us the
opportunity to see probationers in action. This is where
they come, this is where they shop. When they come to the
court, we see one persona. Out here we see another,” said
Probation Officer David F. Giacalone of BMC-West Roxbury
who has bumped into two probationers he is familiar with.
The two groups of probation officers gather
together again and then continue their patrol to the Boston
Common which is buzzing with activity. The probation officers
separate into groups—communicating by police radios
supplied by the Area A-1 precinct.
As McHale and Gully walk along the Common,
they come upon a parked truck on the Tremont Street side.
There are men and women lining up at the white and blue
truck where a man is dispensing plastic cups with a rose-colored
fluid to several bleary-eyed men and women. Gully identifies
the liquid as methadone. Gully and McHale continue to the
center of the park and recognize a middle-aged man with
salt and pepper colored hair and rollerblades weaving through
a group of young women pushing baby carriages.
“I remember him. He is a sex offender.
He was sent to jail and now he is back on the streets but
he’s not on probation anymore,” Gully recalled.
Gully and McHale meet up with more probation
officers who are patrolling the other side of the Common
and run into two young men in their 20’s who are
on probation for viciously attacking a teenage boy and
girl and then posting it on YouTube.
One of the young men, sporting spiked hair
and silver chains attached to his black trousers, gives
Gully a lead on the location of one of their friends who
has missed his appointments with his probation officer.
McHale later said, “We are able to
gather a lot of really good information and give police
a helping hand. Our visibility shows offenders that we
mean business. We are not only at the courts, we are in