Inside ECPD: officers scout the streets

strongJackie Tempera, Beacon Staff/strong

Sergeant Israel Rivera stepped out of the Little Building on Friday night and began his nightly round of Tremont and Boylston streets. The sea of costumed students and club-goers quickly parted as he made his way down the crowded blocks.

For the Emerson College Police Department, Halloween weekend can be one of the most stressful of the year due to partying students and the overcrowded clubs surrounding Emerson.

Rivera, a relatively new officer to the Emerson force, said last Halloween was one of the scariest nights of his one year at Emerson.

“It was crazy, couldn’t walk down Boylston Place at all,” Rivera said. “I was trying to walk out of there, and I felt my back getting heavier and heavier. I turned around and I saw two girls had grabbed onto my back and were crying.”

This year Rivera and the team of officers were prepared for the worst, but had a much calmer weekend. The crowds were thinned by the weekend’s frigid weather and early snowstorm.

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During the Friday night shift, the five-officer team split up, as usual.

Officer Carl Elledge responded to all calls on the West side of campus, from 120 to 150 Boylston St. and Officer Walter Patterson took the East side, from 100 Boylston St. to 216 Tremont while he circled the area in Emerson College’s police cruiser, a 2011 Dodge Charger.

Caleb Chabot served as dispatcher, answering phone calls and serving as an informational point man — looking up directions or searching a database of names.

Officer Laura  Howard remained stationed at the Paramount building for the night.

Rivera watched over the group and patrolled the streets in their entirety, a task the officers do several times a night.

Around 11 p.m., Rivera began his last look over the area, shining a light into the alleyway between the Cutler Majestic Theater and Little Building. As most nights progress, drunken pub-goers flock to this dimly lit avenue to urinate.

As Rivera continued his patrol, his rapport with the locals of this section of Boylston Street was apparent. Bouncers from the Gypsy Bar gave him a wave and laughed as costumed passersby shouted at Rivera.

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“Nice costume,” shouted a girl in her early 20s dressed in a nun’s habit and 5 inch high black wedge peep-toe shoes.

“You think I haven’t heard that before,” Rivera said, catching the “nun” off guard.

Next, Rivera approached Phil, a homeless Vietnam veteran whogenerally posts himself outside the Colonial Building.

Phil and Rivera interact like a pair of old friends, laughing and exchanging quick quips.

As Phil shouted to a group of girls to call him toll free at, “1-800-FREAK,” Rivera went over and shook his hand.

“He’s not a bad guy,” said Rivera. “He’s just been through a lot. But if anything goes wrong with our students, he’d let us know — He has in the past.”

Rivera continued his patrol down the busy street. The officers responded to only two calls that evening, including a problem with alcohol in the Colonial Building. This is surprisingly slow for a Friday night, especially near a holiday, said Rivera.

After reaching Piano Row, Rivera made his way back to the Little Building as his shift came to an end, and went to greet the officers on the later shift.

At midnight, Sergeant Joseph Linscott, officers Arthur Prince and Edward Villard and dispatcher Alex Francis took over the 211 Tremont Street office.

As the evening officers said their goodbyes and made jokes about relaxing and sleeping at home, the midnight team got charged up, all shouting over each other and laughing in the office as they prepared for that night’s activities.

“We all try to bring humor to the night shift,” said Rivera.

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The new team of officers headed toward the alley alongside the Little Building. A group of three students huddled in a corner.

“I bet she is squatting and peeing,” said Liscott as he entered the alley. “Are you aware this is private property?”

The girl in question, an Emerson student, offered up her student I.D. and said she was only hiding her smoking habit. Liscott let the group go on their way, after a few questions.

Prince and Liscott then shined a light on a puddle of urine.

The duo continued up the street joking with all the regular employees around the block. Prince, a former bouncer at a local club, is very familiar with the scene and many of the club owners.

The pair played off each other’s bold sense of humor, like the officers on a police television show.

The team then donned a pair of leather gloves and again checked the doors to ensure they are locked.

“People think when I do this I’m going to try to beat someone or something but really I’m just protecting myself from human feces,” he said with another loud chuckle.

Prince and Linscott said they believe the experience of the aged ECPD staff, most having previous careers in the Boston Police Department or with the Massachusetts State Police, works in the students’ favor and allows for a more functional campus.

“We’re not like that new fresh guy who’s going to bust you for smoking a joint and ruin a guy’s life with a criminal record,” said Linscott.

The whole staff seeks to create a good rapport with the student body, and are there to look out for them in what can be a dangerous time, said Prince.

“As a college student, you are a lamb, a lamb chop,” said Prince.

The officers continued their walk thoroughly checking buildings, checking in with the club owners,  and all while wading through the 12:30 a.m. tides of scantily clad firefighters, bunnies, and Black Swans.

After checking in at Boylston Place, now swarmed with hundreds of people, many unquestionably intoxicated, the duo ventured back to the main street.

A “police woman,” dressed in fishnets, a blue mini skirt, and a tied top with a black bra pranced by.

“That’s our newest officer, she’s a Go-Go cop,” Linscott laughed.

Still experiencing a relatively calm Friday Halloween weekend night, the officers rejoined Francis in the main office.

Action didn’t arise until 2 a.m., when the officers got a call from a security guard involved in an altercation in the Little Building lobby.

Officer Prince rushed to the lobby and found 29-year-old Thomas Derby punching Securitas in the face in an attempt to enter the dorms. Prince arrested Derby for assault and battery.

“We may look the part, but we’re good people,” said Linscott.  “But, when it is time to dance we know how to dance.”