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Boston Police Powerless In Certain Neighborhoods

BOSTON (WBZ) ― Police power in certain areas of Boston is an issue very few people want talk about on camera.

Why?

Because it may be all about the money.

State police cruisers can be seen on patrol in the seaport district in South Boston. But not Boston police. They are not allowed. Just State police.

South Boston Representative Brian Wallace is pushing legislation to change that.

"Its just stupid...it's a law that needs to be stricken from the books," Wallace said.

Wallace, who is a democrat, says he understands why State police were given exclusive police powers at Logan Airport across the harbor. The airport is run by Massport.

But what he doesn't understand is now that Massport owns a large chunk of property in South Boston, Boston police are now powerless there, too.

"No one ever saw Massport taking over the waterfront in South Boston, East Boston,  by putting up hotels and restaurants," Wallace said. "Now State police control all of that. Boston police can't go down there, can't make an arrest, and I just think it's stupid."

The property owned by Massport is impressive, and it's property exclusively controlled by the State Police.

In addition to the airport, there are another 45 acres on the East Boston waterfront.

There are 90 acres in Charlestown and Medford, and about 285 acres in South Boston.

This issue is causing tension between Boston police and State police. For example, on the side walk in front of the New Seaport Hotel, Boston Police have no police powers. Because the hotel is owned by Massport, it is the exclusive jurisdiction of the State police.

Waterfront workers we talked to did not know State police controlled the South Boston neighborhood.

"I would call the Boston Police Department, which I assume is responsible for South Boston," one worker said. "I don't know who else I would call!"

Another worker said, "That's surprising, you would think that you would want Boston police to have enforcement powers within city limits."

So what's going on?

Wallace says it may come down to unwillingness by State police and Massport to share overtime dollars from lucrative police details.

"This should be about public safety, not about dollars," he said.

Chief correspondent Joe Shortsleeve then asked, "And you think it is about the dollars?"

Wallace responded, "In the long run it probably is, yes."

Since WBZ started working on this story, sources now tell us Massport and State Police are trying to work out a deal. A deal that would allow Boston Police back in their own neighborhood.

The Executive Office of Public Safety issued a statement to WBZ when asked about Rep. Wallace's legislation, which calls for joint police powers in those areas. The statement says in part, they would like to "find a solution."

(© MMVIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

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