An escalating turf battle between Hub cops and state troopers in the red-hot Seaport District has led to crime-scene bickering, tugs of war over sexual assault cases, delays in liquor license enforcement -- and an hourslong squabble over a dead body found on a boat, according to a Herald review of newly released reports.
"It's a huge problem," Boston police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said of the confusing boundary battle. "I don't know of any other place in the country that is like that."
Under current rules, state police are in charge -- and Boston police are powerless -- in large swaths of the Seaport, including a cluster of new hotels, restaurants, bars and residential towers.
The confusion has led to a spate of on-the-job disputes among state and local cops, including:
L In March 2012, the body of a 43-year-old Plymouth man who died of an apparent overdose lay for hours on a boat docked at the Boston Fish Pier, while troopers and Boston cops feuded over who was in charge. Boston Police Superintendent William Evans, who was on the scene, described it as a "big beef" that "took quite some time to sort out." The Suffolk district attorney ultimately ruled it was the state police's case. State police spokesman David Procopio said it was the right decision and that "nothing about the investigation was jeopardized or compromised";
--In January 2012, Boston cops -- who enforce liquor laws -- were kept in the dark for two weeks after a drunken reveler harassed waitresses, yanked a fire alarm, punched a bouncer in the face and ran from cops at a popular Seaport bar. State troopers arrested the man, but detectives assigned to the city's licensing division were never notified, according to a Boston police report.
The BPD eventually learned about the mayhem and slapped the bar with a slew of violations. Pro-copio had no information on the incident, but said state troopers have a standing policy to report all bar violations to the BPD;
--In June 2011, a domestic assault case was botched after a woman allegedly was punched in the face by her boyfriend inside a Seaport pub. State police didn't file any charges, but Boston cops later arrested the boyfriend at a Dorchester hotel and wrote in a report that troopers "weren't interested" in pursuing the case. A state police report, however, refutes the BPD's account, claiming troopers were called in after Hub motorcycle cops ignored the woman's initial complaint; and
--In 2009, Boston detectives responded to a sexual assault in a Seaport gar-age. They interviewed the trauma-tized female victim, but the probe stalled when garage security officers refused to turn over video surveillance tapes to Hub cops and called in state police, who took over the case.
The boundary beef has sparked a new bill filed by South Boston state Rep. Nick Collins to restore the BPD's powers in the Seaport, which were stripped 17 years ago, when the area was a barren industrial wasteland.
Procopio said troopers perform "city policing duties" in Lawrence, Brockton and Springfield and are "well-trained" to handle domestic violence, sexual assaults, fights and other street crime. "We are providing a full range of excellent policing and public safety ser-vices," he said.
But Evans called the setup "archaic" and said the Seaport should be patrolled by Boston's finest.
"We want to be able to answer house calls and go into the bars if there's a fight -- just like everywhere else in the state," Evans said. "Everyone realizes the common sense of it, but because of the politics of it, it's not getting done."
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