Mayor Wu announces summer safety strategy for Boston in wake of recent gun violence


Officials addressed concerns about gun violence and a host of other community safety issues this summer.

Mayor Michelle Wu speaks with Police Commissioner Michael Cox at Boston Police Headquarters earlier this year. Matthew J. Lee/Boston Globe

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, Police Commissioner Michael Cox and other officials announced a summer safety strategy Thursday and detailed some of the efforts they are making to reduce crime in the city.

The announcement comes following several instances of gun violence, including a man shot dead near a college in Dorchester on Monday, a gunman firing shots in the middle of a busy intersection on Tuesday and a barrage of gunfire fire near a Roxbury baseball field. Wednesday.

The total number of gunshot victims this year is three fewer than it was at the same time last year, Cox said. However, the city has seen more homicides so far this year than in 2022.

“If you look at the numbers, especially against national trends, Boston is one of the safest cities in the county. But that’s not the lens through which we’re looking at this issue. Even a single case of violence army has lasting and generational impacts,” Wu said.

Last month, more than 20 city and community leaders came together for an intensive week-long workshop to understand what gun violence prevention strategies from across the country can be implemented in Boston. Wu’s administration is currently learning lessons from this program and using them to develop a “comprehensive strategy against gun violence”, she said.

More broadly, the City’s summer safety strategy has five main objectives:

  • Intensify community and youth activities and employment opportunities for those living in places historically affected by gun violence. Summer creates more of a need for these things because young people are out of school.
  • Ensure residents are connected to the resources they need to recover from instances of community violence.
  • Connected youth who are engaged or affected by community violence with intervention and recovery programs.
  • Gathering people from certain “hot spots” for positive events.
  • Finalize the aforementioned strategy on armed violence.

The gun violence strategy should include weekly reviews of incidents among senior officials to ensure citywide responses, meetings in “hot spot” communities to “raise the visibility of law enforcement without aggressive enforcement” and the creation of a committee to “address the macro-level policy changes that need to take place,” said senior community safety adviser Isaac Yablo.

Yablo spoke about the value of connecting with ordinary residents to learn more about their experiences with violence.

“We have access to incredible data as a city, but the data that is equally important to us is the lived experiences and community experiences of city residents,” he said.

Officials also addressed ongoing issues with groups of people crowding city streets with vehicles such as ATVs and dirt bikes. An elderly man was beaten by such a group last November and in February BPD officers cracked down on an illegal drag racing operation. Police seized several firearms, fentanyl and a variety of vehicles.

Calls related to these types of activities really picked up at the start of the pandemic in 2020 and tend to increase during the summer months, Assistant Superintendent Pam Harris said.

“Many of them don’t do it safely, they act recklessly, wreak havoc in our communities and sometimes try to take over the streets, which we cannot allow,” she said. declared.

Many of the people involved in these groups are not from Boston, Harris said. The BPD Auto Theft Task Force actively monitors these groups. The vast majority of those vehicles are unregistered and potentially stolen, she said.

The BPD has seized 92 off-road vehicles so far in 2023. Last year, the department issued about 1,200 citations and seized 133 vehicles, Harris said.

Law enforcement can be tricky, and officers are instructed not to pursue these groups while on the move. Chases lead to increased speed and therefore an increased threat to public safety, she said. Instead, the police watch the groups and try to engage with them as they stop and get out of their vehicles.

Throughout Thursday’s press conference, Cox and others reiterated the importance of help and public trust.

“If you have an audience that doesn’t trust the police department, you’ll have an audience that won’t call 911, they won’t tell us what’s going on after the fact, they won’t report things…c It’s very difficult to solve crimes without the help of the public,” Cox said.


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