Suffolk County DA Rachel Rollins criticizes 'Methadone Mile' cleanup

Suffolk County DA Rachel Rollins criticizes 'Methadone Mile' cleanup

BOSTON — Harsh words from Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins for city leaders in the wake of safety concerns in the area known as 'Methadone Mile.'​​

The DA said in a tweet that, "we cannot arrest our way out of a health and resource crisis."

This comes eight days after a correction officer at the Suffolk County jail was attacked by a group of people on Atkinson Street, a place where homeless people and those openly using drugs are often seen.

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DA Rollins told Boston 25 News that she's excited to work on solving the problem. All sides admit there needs to be a layered approach; step one, Rollins says, is connecting those homeless and in recovery to the services they need.

Two people were arrested in connection with the beating and car theft of a Suffolk Correction Officer on August 1. Since then, police began 'Operation Clean Sweep,' arresting 34 others for various charges over two days.

Friday afternoon on Atkinson Street there were no noticeable crowds, needles or an abundance of trash. But DA Rollins says the "sweep" was the wrong method, sending people into Dudley Square and other neighborhoods.

"The police were left with no other alternatives I think, than to engage in that behavior," DA Rollins said. "I am just frustrated because it is putting a Band-Aid on a gushing wound."

She disagrees with the city's approach and says there’s plenty of blame to go around, but also an opportunity to help those in need who live there.

"We all turned a blind eye as we turned and looked and rolled our windows up and now this is right in our face and what are we going to do about it?" DA Rollins asked.

"I am involved in this, not just pushing it down to the 300 people in my office. I am attending these meetings, I am not sending anyone other than myself. And we are going to keep this front and center because, quite frankly, Suffolk County deserves this, and, quite frankly, the people that are being swept up, those are brothers and sisters and fathers and mothers of people like me."

Mayor Marty Walsh responded to tweets criticizing the city's response. He says he agrees that arrests are not the solution, but said the city went after drug dealers, not users or homeless people.

Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins told Boston 25 News that his staff and the businesses on Atkinson Street all feel safer since the city's sweep. He added that getting people recovery services is key, but busting drug dealers is also vital.