City leaders, BPD hopeful about changes in Seaport jurisdiction turf war

BOSTON – There could finally be a turning point in the tug of war between Massachusetts State Police and Boston Police in one of the city’s fastest growing neighborhoods.

For two decades now, state police have had authority over what was once a largely commercial area of industrial warehouses and parking.

The area has evolved through recent years into a trendy waterfront neighborhood of bars, restaurants and residential towers.

Some city leaders and Boston Police Officials say the reluctance of state police to share power in the Seaport District has defied logic and jeopardized safety.

“We can drive down certain streets, but we don’t have jurisdiction over certain streets. That’s not right,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said.

Mayor Walsh hopes that jurisdictional turf war could soon be coming to an end amidst recent calls for a state police overhaul.

Residents who live in and visit the city call the territorial dispute concerning.

“It just seems stupid and counterproductive,” David Hough said. “If every second counts, whoever gets there first should at least start.”

The issue dates back to a law from the 1990s that gave state police exclusive MassPort jurisdiction in the area.

Mayor Walsh said he believes Governor Charlie Baker could also be on his side after recent proposals to overhaul the state police department in the wake of controversy surrounding hidden payroll and hefty overtime.

“It’s most important that it is figured out. It doesn’t matter who’s responding, as long as someone is responding,” Seaport visitor Kelly Webber said.

In a statement to Boston 25 News, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said his department should be able to respond and make arrests in the area.

“Residents in the Seaport District should get the same city services as everyone else. We do an excellent job at community and neighborhood-based policing. City residents deserve city police. No one has given me one good reason to prevent it,” he said.

State Rep. Nick Collins, who represents the area on Beacon Hill, said he’s getting ready to file a formal proposal in front of the state legislature to transfer jurisdiction to Boston police.

“This is a matter of public safety and we have been discussing it for years. It’s time to get this resolved once and for all so there is no confusion as to how to service the many residents and businesses in this growing neighborhood," Collins said in a statement.