Boston Officials, Police, and Citizens Work to Reduce Violence in Most Impacted Communities

Police tape stock
Photo courtesy of Yumi Kimura / Flickr

By Amanda Lucidi
BU News Service

City officials, police and citizens of Boston met Tuesday night at ABCD in Roxbury to discuss a sustainable plan for violence reduction and trauma response for the most impacted Boston communities— Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury.

Although violence has decreased over the past decade citywide, it remains concentrated in the same Boston neighborhoods.

“We get more 911 calls at B2 than any other police station in the city,” city councilor Tito Jackson said.

According to the Boston Police Department the clearance rate for homicides in 2016 was 63 percent, but in non-fatal shootings was a mere 16 percent.

The police have attributed this disparity in clearance rates to a lack of cooperation by witnesses and victims, but some members communities expressed frustration over that claim.

“It hurt me to hear the police say, ‘oh we aren’t blaming you, but nobody cooperates,’” Roxbury resident Soledad Boyd said. “But that’s all we’ve been doing— myself and my neighbors have continued to cooperate and ask for support.”

Resistance to work with police can sometimes come from a witness or victim’s fear the offender will retaliate and jeopardize their safety.

“We would never leave anyone out there, especially someone who came forward on a serious violent offense,” police commissioner William B. Evans said.

But relocation and witness protection services the city offers are only temporary and, according to police officials, funding constraints prevent the availability for longer term programs.

And the problem extends beyond trying to catch the victim— trauma services have been uneven in responding to these communities. Jackson and other residents cited violence in their neighborhoods where trauma response services were late or never showed up.

“This has been a reoccurring thing for us,” program director for the Boston TenPoint Collation, Rufus J. Faulk said. “We’ve been going to vigils, we’ve been going to funerals for thirty plus years now.”

Many residents criticized that despite the breadth of resources built to address these issues at their core, there is a lack of accessibility for those who need them most.

“The issue is there’s a group of young people that don’t go to programs for safety reasons because they can’t navigate through the city safely that are not going to walk into a community center because they just don’t feel comfortable doing so,” Roxbury resident and activist Monica Cannon said. “And unless somebody is willing to come out of their cushiony seat we’re never going to reach them.”

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