Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

Boston’s Carson Beach Causes Confusion Among Law Enforcement Agencies (Part 1 of 2)

It is not every day that we see law enforcement respond to a melee with yey more confusion. It would appear, however, that this is what happened at the recent Carson Beach South Boston assault and battery happenings this past weekend.

in fact., while the state police opine that the violence was caused by rival street gangs, it may be that the only rivalry involved is between police organizations.

The State Police have described tthat heir response to Carson Beach, which is located only minutes from their South Boston barracks, was caused because of the report of a fight between two rival gangs. Now, the Boston Police question whether rival gangs were involved at all.

Meanwhile, no dangerous weapons were confiscated over the weekend and there were no serious injuries reported during the flare-ups, which also occurred in the area around Savin Hill, Malibu Beach, and Pleasure Bay.

Not usually the case with gang violence.

There were arrests though, of course. For example, five people were arrested on charges of the catch-all Massachusetts disorderly conduct

However, while the Massachusetts State Police (hereinafter, “Staties”) claim that there was scary gang activity afoot, the Boston Police Department (hereinafter, “BPD”) expressed skepticism that rival gangs were behind the fights at all. Commissioner Edward F. Davis said that BPD officers, who were called to South Boston over the long holiday weekend to assist state troopers, believed the altercations were between young teenagers with no gang ties.

”It looked like there were three or four different fights breaking out with a lot of people running to see what was going on,” he said. ”We’re looking at the gang angle to see if that was the case but at this point in time we’re questioning that”, he explained.

This is important, of course, because if there was no such danger, why did the Staties storm Carson Beach over the holiday weekend as they did?

This iexample of BPD contradicting the conclusions of the Staties is rare. What is not in contradiction is the Staties’ jurisdictional right to take over the area. When questioned about the Staties’s tactics, their spokespeople again pointed to the alleged rival gangs, but emphasized that it was a chaotic scene with hundreds of teenagers on Carson Beach.

Apparently, it is unusual for teens to congregate on a beach over the summer’s first holiday weekend when the weather is…well…summer-like. It would appear that such a grouping of young people must mean gang activity.

At any rate, the Staties argue that their tactics, such as using long lines of police to clear hundreds of people, including women and children, were necessary several times throughout the weekend to keep the area safe.

”State Police responded on four consecutive nights to groups of young people anywhere in size from several hundred to over 1,000,” David Procopio, spokesman for the Staties, said. ”We moved thousands of people, some of whom were unruly. We arrested a handful of people and nobody got injured. We would consider that to be an example of restraint, of discretion, and of professional policing.”

Given this description (with my highlighting added), others might call it an over-reaction by law enforcement. Apparently, the BPD questions that as well.

In a statement, Mayor Thomas M. Menino said the Staties should act more like the BPD when patrolling areas of the city under their jurisdiction. He has announced, ”I have asked Police Commissioner Davis to work with the State Police in patrolling this area better and with more consistency in our tactics,”

The law enforcement disagreement as to how the event took place set the stage for a more common blue-tinted difference of opinion…jurisdiction. Staties generally get jurisdictions of beaches. But then again, shouldn’t the BPD be in charge of said local areas?

For now, the two police agencies are saying that they will work together. Generally, that means bad news for those intent on bad behavior…or anything perceived as such.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Massachusetts Violent Crimes, Jurisdiction And Police Confusion

There are two areas that strike this particular experienced criminal defense attorney. Therefore, we will continue with this story in my next blog.

The issue of jurisdiction is an important one among law enforcement and, in fact, the criminal justice system as a whole. One can be in Boston, stay on one street, and yet trigger prosecution by the Staties, BPD and a bevy of federal agencies…all prosecuting different crimes or even similar crimes but on different properties..

I have met many clients who are surprised that by doing what they have allegedly done number of times before and only had to deal with local police, they have suddenly gotten the attention of Boston’s federal prosecutors.

We have discussed in the past that certain crimes are generally investigated and prosecuted by the federal criminal justice system and its investigators the F.B.I.. or D.E.A.

There is a big difference between whether or not you are being prosecuted in state or federal court.Procedures are different, prosecutorial abilities are different and the sentencing is quite different.

Those who have had experience with both local police and state troopers can also attest to the fact that their approaches are generally different as well…as is demonstrated by this story.

Of course, as we have also discussed, there are often joint investigations, often between all three agencies. Sometimes these investigations are done in cooperation with other states’ law enforcement as well. We have discussed many times the “You can run but you cannot hide” reality of this.

Which officers investigate where is a big issue to the various law enforcement agencies for many reasons. Among the top reasons is the subject of organization.

And this is the subject we will pick up in my next blog.

In the meantime, if you would like to discuss a criminal matter with me, please feel free to call me at 617-492-3000 to arrange a free initial consultation.

To view the articles upon which this blog are based, please go to http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2011/05/police_break_up.html and http://bostonherald.com/

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