Thurau-Gray said Boston police need to alert people about the limitations of special police officers and distribute fliers describing residents' rights. Dunford said he was open to the suggestion.
Jack Connelly, president of Longwood Security, said he has not received complaints about his officers.
"I believe that officers conduct themselves in a very professional manner," he said. "If they don't, I'd like to hear about it because that's the expectation at all times without exception."
Connelly, a soft-spoken 55-year-old who founded Longwood in 1986, said the goal of the security officers is to watch over the neighborhoods, not intimidate residents and visitors.
"The goal is for the safety and tranquility of the communities," he said. "The goal is not to make an arrest."
Security officers also enforce trespass orders issued by the management companies that run housing complexes. Connelly said those orders are issued if a visitor had been caught doing anything from drinking in public to assault.
But defense attorneys representing some who have been charged with trespassing say management companies often issue orders arbitrarily.
"People are being harassed, stopped, searched, and really for walking down the street," said Cora Vestal, a public defender with the Committee for Public Counsel Services. She said she has a growing list of clients who have been stopped in private complexes by officers from Alliance Detective and Security Inc. and New World Security Associates.
A lawyer for Alliance declined to comment. An official at New World said only the branch manager of the company could comment and he is on vacation.
Ceredo Dean, a resident of Mission Main, a housing complex in Roxbury, said her neighbor's 22-year-old son was recently stopped and frisked twice in the same day, because New World officers were looking for a Hispanic man involved in a fight.
"I go to a lot of community meetings and I hear these things and it's very concerning to me," she said. "Who's going to be next? Grown men with jobs can't even sit on their front stoop without being harassed."
One recent incident in particular has increased tensions at Harbor Point. On July 4, Toya Calloway's 22-year-old daughter Shekasia was watching fireworks with friends near her mother's home. Longwood officers approached them, asked whether they were setting off fireworks, and - without asking permission - took their bag, she said. They found two bottles of Courvoisier, she said, emptying one and throwing the other into the water. A Harbor Point official later said it was a state trooper who threw out the liquor.
Later that night, the dispute escalated, according to a police report. Toya Calloway confronted the officers, who said that they were then pushed and kicked by some family members - an assertion Calloway denied. The officers used pepper spray on Toya and another daughter, who was 12, according to the report. Toya Calloway was arrested and charged with assault and battery on an officer; Shekasia was charged with disorderly conduct.
Connelly said he could not discuss the incident because it is a pending criminal matter, but Orlando Perilla, a resident of Harbor Point and executive director of the Harbor Point Community Task Force, said the officers acted appropriately.
"I always tell [the Longwood officers] no matter who it is, treat them with respect and dignity," Perilla said. "Always, if you're not professional, those things will come back to haunt us, sooner or later."