Increased Patrols Come after Reports of Armed Men Threatening Homeless Population
ARLINGTON — Acting Chief Juliann Flaherty reports that members of the Arlington Police Department have stepped up patrol efforts in the Mugar Woods area of East Arlington. This is in response to a recent report of armed men threatening the homeless population in the area.
On Tuesday, Feb. 11, the Arlington Police Department, members of which conduct weekly outreach at areas where the homeless are known to gather, received information that three men recently began camping in the Mugar Woods and had been threatening the homeless population there. The information also suggested that one of the men was in possession of a firearm and that they may be bringing drugs into the area.
The outreach efforts over the past 18 months are part of the work of the Arlington Homeless Outreach Team, a partnership including members of Arlington Health and Human Services, Arlington Police Department, and the Somerville Homeless Coalition. Under the direction of a full time Case Manager, a shared position between HHS and police, the team works daily to provide outreach and social services to those struggling with homelessness.
The increased police presence in the area was determined necessary to identify any armed individuals or those who may have active arrests warrants. Police officers made attempts to locate the suspects on Feb. 11 and 12. Officers found the campsite believed to belong to the suspects and located a large bladed weapon and police-style baton. The suspects were not located. They are now believed to be camping in Cambridge, and Arlington Police are in contact with the Cambridge Police Department.
During the police outreach at Mugar, a homeless individual was located who outreach staff had indicated had been approved for housing under a state-funded grant program. Police assisted by arranging to transport that individual and belongings to a new home.
“The Arlington Police department cares about all of its residents, including those without a permanent address,” Chief Flaherty said. “I am deeply committed to the mission of the Arlington Homeless Outreach Team. We will not tolerate violent crime in our community, and we will aggressively pursue those who seek to intimidate or victimize our vulnerable populations.”
About the Arlington Homeless Outreach Team
In 2018 the Arlington Police Department started a Homeless Outreach Team (HOT), which includes a patrol officer, a mental health clinician, a municipal health inspector, a firefighter/EMT and staff from the neighboring Somerville Homeless Coalition outreach team. The Arlington Homeless Outreach team is part of the Cambridge Multi- Disciplinary Outreach Team (MDOT). This group, which also includes staff from homeless shelters and transitional housing groups, meets weekly in Cambridge to discuss at-risk homeless individuals and homeless families.
Attendance at this group has created invaluable relationships with shelter staff, resources and agencies throughout the area. The HOT team also coordinated a Help the Homeless clean-up of the Mugar Woods in November 2019.
In 2018, the Arlington Police Department was awarded a Rapid Re-Housing grant from the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance, which allows the HOT to fund rent for one year for individuals living in the Mugar Woods near the Alewife MBTA Station. Since last year, seven individuals living in these areas have been placed in apartment housing thanks to the grant. Housing recipients also also receive counseling and assistance from the Somerville Homeless Coalition with the long-term goal of financial self-sufficiency.