MBTA Transit Police Officer Elizabeth Dumas has been recognized for her efforts at Dorchester's Ashmont Station. Ashmont Station is one of the city’s busiest transportation hubs, serving as a gateway for students, workers, and on rare occasion, commuters with criminal intent. While most law enforcement officers focus on that third group of riders, Transit Police Officer Elizabeth Dumas is being recognized for her attention to not only crime, but the larger community.
Dumas was recently awarded with the department’s Distinguished Service Award in late September. The award pointed not only to her number of citations and arrests she has made during her year patrolling the station, but also for her role as a liaison between Transit Police and the Peabody Square-Ashmont community. Now, with more high school students than ever passing through the station on a daily basis, Dumas and her colleagues are finding those community connections vital to preventing crimes before they happen.
Dumas, a Worcester native, said she always wanted to follow in the footsteps of her grandfather, who worked as a detective in the Worcester Police Department and enrolled in the city’s police academy in 2008. Following her graduation from the academy, Dumas did not let WPD hiring cutbacks prevent her from pursuing her dream, eventually finding herself stationed in the heart of Dorchester.
“It’s really a mixed bag here,” Dumas said of her post at Ashmont, where an average day can involve anything from preventing riders from crossing the T tracks to firearms arrests.
“You never know what a day will bring, but you see the same people and eventually you really get to know them,” Dumas said.
Since her first day at Ashmont Station, Dumas said she has made an effort to talk to commuters as they waited for their trains and buses, a practice she and her colleagues feel has made the difference on numerous cases.
“I always try to make myself available and I have people that stop by my office every day, just to chat and say hello,” Dumas said. “But people know that if there is a problem coming, or if they see something wrong, they can come to us. We actually get a lot of good information because people know who we are.”
While Dumas spends much of her time patrolling the area surrounding the station, her superiors have begun to take advantage of her personable approach to policing and now regularly send her to neighborhood civic association and crime watch meetings as a way to keep neighbors up to date on potential problems in the area.
St. Mark’s Area Main Streets executive director Dan Larner said Dumas has been a welcome presence at neighborhood functions, fielding questions about activity around the station and putting a personal face on MBTA law enforcement.
“Even when you’re talking to her, you can tell she’s got her antenna up,” Larner said. “She’s great, very approachable and always responsive when you say something is wrong.”
Although members of the Boston Police Department, MBTA police and other agencies have made a joint effort to keep the Ashmont station safe, Dumas said the recent closing of the Hyde Park Education Complex has turned her station into a hub for nearly 1,000 students during an hour-long daily rush.
Because of the sudden influx of students, Dumas and her colleagues have found allies in the area’s high school administrators, who visit the station during their students’ commutes as a way to provide oversight and show support for law enforcement.
Tech Boston Academy chief administrative officer Keith Love is one of the many school workers who make a daily appearance to the station. According to Love, the partnership helps keep kids out of trouble while also making the jobs of officers managing the crowd much less daunting.
“Introducing officer Dumas as a resource is a big payoff for me,” Love said. “Kids see me talking to her and it helps. It shows we’re working together and she’s more than just another cop, it’s not ‘Hey you, blue shirt,’ it’s ‘hey Michael, get on the bus.’”