Boston Housing Authority (BHA) created the Department of Public Safety in the late 1970s in response to the security needs of tenants and managers. At that time, City police services were not seen as adequate due to the high density of the development population. Six civilian investigators were hired to investigate crime and other incivilities in public housing property, interact with Boston Police district officers, and pursue civil and criminal complaints against tenants.

By 1983, the department began to further train and professionalize the unit by sending the then-42 investigators through the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training Committee Basic Police Recruit Academies.

Throughout the 1980s BHA Police officers worked in concert with the Boston Police Department's TEAM Police Unit to provide a police presence in Boston’s Public Housing Developments.

In 1994, the concept of “Community Policing” became popular around the country. Community Policing was embraced by the Boston Police Department and quickly introduced to the City’s Public Housing Developments.

At the heart of Community Policing is the Patrol Officer, working and forging relationships and partnerships within the community to help identify and solve problems with the community’s assistance and support. When defining expectations and responsibilities of the BHA Police Officer, emphasis is placed on

  • Foot and vertical patrols of the properties' buildings and hallways

  • Maintaining high-visibility and regular interaction with residents

  • Attending private conferences regarding safety concerns with managers and residents

  • Assisting with eviction proceedings

  • Communicating with youth workers and Maintenance Superintendents

  • Attending community meetings

  • Collaborating with youth workers to address safety concerns and participate in activities

The Public Safety Division in partnership with the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission (MPAC) will be undergoing an On-site agency assessment on March 14-15, 2023.

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