Boston officials unveil plan to fight summertime crime

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May 23, 2013, 6:21 pm
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(NECN: Greg Wayland) - The Boston mayor's team is giving its summer violence prevention strategy a theme, and in a word, it's "more".

"We'll be more proactive, more visible and more available to the public than ever before," Boston Mayor Tom Menino says.
     
More jobs, more to do.

"More opportunities, the diversity of opportunities and making sure that we're engaging the entire family," City of Boston Human Service's Daphne Griffin says.
      
Engagement throughout a season when crime more or less is as predictable as hot weather.

Police Commissioner Ed Davis pointed to a map in the City Hall conference room that showed the hot spots around the city -- the Harvard Avenue area, Geneva-Bowdoin, Heath Street -- 10 in all.

"The map shows where shootings have been. We're concentrating on these areas," Davis says.
     
And for those hot spots, rife with gang activity, again the strategy is "more".

"More targeted sweeps for individuals wanted for crimes," Menino says.
     
Especially in the neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, Davis says, "We're going to deploy 55 new recruits who will be graduating the first week of July."
     
With a focus on that gang violence as well as ordinary crime, such as breaking and entering, vandalism, theft. This goes for the upscale downtown retail districts of Newbury Street and Downtown Crossing.

"We're sending the message that if you pick up a gun, we're going to arrest you for something," Davis says.
     
It won't be all about fighting violence. The outreach will have wide arms, trying to gather in more families, focusing on kids from 6 on up to 19, and their parents. There will be a focus on schools. There will be summer camp and movies in the parks.

"We will have teams of folks that will be out there doing door-knocking. and we'll culminate each afternoon with a barbecue in the neighborhood," Boston Public Health Commissioner Barbara Ferrer says.

Then they'll try to shine more light in the darkness.
 
"Neighborhood watch groups and police community service officers will conduct new flashlight walks to bring residents out together in the neighborhoods in the evenings," Mayor Menino says.
     
There are success stories.

"We have low to no crime in Hyde park, and that's amazing," Hyde Park Neighborhood Watch's Val Almeida says.

In Val's Neighborhood, they've focused on "curb appeal" -- houses looking neat and tidy, with neighbors visiting one another on porches throughout the summer. The summer, whether in the heart of the city or in the neighborhoods, is supposed to be about fun and relaxation -- family times. And city officials know many families fall through the cracks and don't get the word about neighborhood activities. That's what the flashlight campaign and door-to-door efforts are all about.
 
But has the threat of violence increased for this summer?

"The summer is always a challenging time for us, and we prepare every year like this," Davis says.

But they have learned lessons and, through their collaboration - health commission, Neighborhood Watch, police - they're telling us that the threat hasn't increased. Just the outreach, with the hope that the threat will go away.

Tags: Boston, Tom Menino, Greg Wayland, Ed Davis, barbara ferrer, Boston summer crime, Daphne Griffin
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