“I’m a big believer in shutting my mouth and opening my eyes and ears,” says Boston Police Sargent Samil Silta.
Silta has been a cop for 22 years and has spent the last four and a half years here in the Longwood Medical and Academic Area as a community service Sargent. He is the first non-African American police officer to hold the position.
Silta covers all of the LMA, Mission Hill and about 15% of Dorchester.
“I deal with all walks of life – it’s such a rewarding job,” he adds.
Silta’s heritage is quite unique as well. His mother is a Roman Catholic Irish immigrant and his dad is a Muslim immigrant from Crimea.
“The LMA is a unique part of the City of Boston. We have such a diverse neighborhood that rapidly changes with all the college students in and out, new medical residents and researchers, and a LOT of the people working and living in this area are from other countries,” he says.
After the recent presidential election, Silta and his colleague spoke to a crowd at the Islamic Society in Roxbury.
“I understand there is a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety, as a result of the national election for president,” he said. “We are all on a journey together, moving forward. Just as we always have. And I’m here to reassure everyone here that the police department of the city of Boston and the mayor of the city of Boston, Marty Walsh, value every single one of you as a Bostonian. And we’re here to tell you that we’re here to protect everyone’s rights regardless of race or religion or gender.”*
“My job is to protect everybody’s rights here equally,” Silta said. “I am a first-generation American myself. Neither of my parents is from this country. My mother is from Ireland. My father is from Crimea and is Muslim. So I can relate to every person in this room with the fear and the anxiety they have.”* (*Excerpts used with permission from Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen.)
“My true philosophy of community policing comes from a professor at Harvard – Dr. Bob Sampson – who coined the phrase ‘collective efficacy.’ It’s a way of thinking around shared beliefs regarding human behavior,” he explains.
Silta’s passion for collective efficacy stems from his youth. “When I was growing up neighbors watched out – you couldn’t get away with much; this was all well before cell phones and beeper. A big problem today is that is today people don’t connect eye to eye – people are strangers. My district covers 220,000 people – we are a city within a city with a highly nomadic student population. People keep to themselves. Collective efficacy promotes residents monitoring children playing in public areas, acting to prevent truancy and ‘street corner hanging’ by teenagers, and confronting individuals who exploit or disturb public spaces,” he explains.
Silta has a reputation for attending a large number of meetings.
“Between May and October I can attend 200+ meetings a month. I go where I am invited and anywhere I can be helpful,” he explains. “I’ll go to block parties, weddings, christenings, religious events – we (BPD) are as much a part of the community as anyone. I am so proud to be the community service person for the area. People call me 24hrs/day. Sometimes my wife gets annoyed – I’ll stay at a person’s house and keep watch to make them safe – but that is what I signed up for and why I love my job.”
“MASCO is a huge asset to me and a tremendous source of assistance in my role in the LMA. MASCO helps me connect with the security officers and personnel of the colleges and hospitals and reassure the greater LMA that we are watching, and most importantly, we are listening.”
BPD Sargent Samil Silta