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Mayors, police officers and crime watch organizers from 13 Boston-area communities gathered on the Mass. Ave. Bridge Tuesday morning in a display of unity and a celebration of National Night Out.
As part of the day-long activities centered around community participation in crime fighting, city officials and volunteers joined hands above the Charles River as a boat from the fire department sprayed fountains of water into the air in the background.
Christopher F. Hayes, director of the Neighborhood Crime Watch unit for the Boston Police Department, who opened the speech-making portion of the event, said the day was important for many reasons.
"This is a day of celebration, self-congratulation and recommitment," Hayes said. "Working together we will continue to make progress. Our streets and our neighborhoods belong to us."
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said the celebration of National Night Out was sending a message to felons.
"We are telling the criminal element in our community there's no boundaries in fighting crime in the greater Boston area," Menino said
Cambridge Mayor Sheila T. Doyle Russell also spoke, presenting a proclamation of thanks and congratulations.
James A. Sheets, mayor of Quincy, said the celebration showed the Boston area's resolve against crime.
"We're here because crime knows no boundaries," Sheets said. "We're committed; we're here because we believe."
Paul F. Evans, police commissioner of the City of Boston, emphasized the need for cooperation between the government and the community.
"What we're celebrating is the relationship between police, the neighborhoods, and the people we serve," Evans said. "We can't do it alone. We have to work with the community."
After the round of short speeches, the ceremony was concluded and the officials mingled with community organizers and press, expressing their satisfaction with the event.
"It's wonderful," Russell said. "It's bigger than ever this year."
Menino also praised the occasion.
"The event is very significant in that 13 communities have come together to send a message: there are no boundaries, there are no walls," he said. "We're all together fighting crime."
Hayes said in a telephone interview yesterday that he feels the crime watch program is a crucial part of the fight against crime.
"The whole day in general was absolutely exhilarating to me," said Hayes, "and I firmly believe that the crime watch movement is going to save the cities and towns of this country."
Cambridge City Councillor Anthony D. Galluccio said he hoped community volunteers got the accolades they deserved.
"Aside from bringing the cities together, which is crucial," said Galluccio, "I think the most important aspect of the day is recognizing the neighborhood crime fighters."
These include Lawrence D. Burke, chair of the Cambridge Crime Task Force, and Vicky Boulrice, neighborhood coordinator for the Cambridge Police Department.
The community spirit of the event was nearly overwhelmed by the preponderance of local government representatives, around whom hovered a modest swarm of TV news cameras.
When former Cambridge mayor Alice K. Wolf emphasized the importance of a "grassroots" effort in fighting crime, there were actually few civilians in attendance, and when participants joined hands across the bridge, their chain only stretched across about 60 or 70 feet of the bridge, reaching neither shore.
There were a numerous police officers in attendance, however, arriving on everything from horses to motorcycles to their own feet to boats.
Harold H. Diggs and Jerry Arroyo, police officers with the Harbor Patrol, cruised the river next to the bridge.
"Normally we work in Boston Harbor, but when the mayor's there and the commissioner's there you go where you gotta go," said Diggs.
"Anything for safety," Arroyo said.
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