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Boston mayor, PD comissioner roll out summer safety plan

Mayor Michelle Wu announced a six-pronged plan that seeks to target resources and interventions in hot-spot areas prone to violence


Mayor Michelle Wu, seen with Police Commissioner Michael Cox. (Nancy Lane/Boston Herald/TNS)

Nancy Lane/TNS

By Gayla Cawley
Boston Herald

BOSTON — Boston’s mayor rolled out a lengthy summer safety plan that focuses on addressing the “root causes” of violence, but much of the work will center around what police say they already do: target the same group of people who drive the crime each year.

Mayor Michelle Wu described the six-pronged plan, which seeks to target resources and interventions in hot-spot areas prone to violence as “practical and compassionate, sustainable and specific, trauma-informed and healing-focused.” It aims to address root causes her office identifies, in part, as systemic racism, poverty and environmental injustice.

“It’s not a Band-Aid,” Wu said at a Tuesday press conference in Mission Hill. “It focuses on root causes, not symptoms. And while it is a summer safety plan, it is a foundation. It serves as a foundation that goes along with our year-round plan. So it will be the springboard for a safer fall, winter and spring, for years to come.”

The plan builds on the city’s gun violence intervention strategy introduced last spring with data from a weeklong workshop that concluded most of the serious gun crimes occurred among a small number of people in four neighborhoods, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan and Roxbury, from 2018-2022.

A disproportionate amount of gun violence is concentrated within roughly 150 micro-locations, rather than occurring throughout entire neighborhoods, according to Isaac Yablo, the mayor’s senior advisor for community safety. This summer, he and the Boston Police Department are honing in on 15 of those areas, he said.

“We focus year-round on a small number of individuals who drive the crime,” Police Commissioner Michael Cox said. “We found over time that these individuals repeatedly offend over and over again, and if we focus on those individuals, we are focusing on the right people that drive the violence in our city.”

Crime typically spikes in the summer, given that people are gathering more outside when the weather is warmer. The higher frequency of cookouts and other large outdoor gatherings provides more opportunity for “conflict,” Cox said.

The data supports that trend: While the city saw a 24% reduction in shootings last year between June and August — 52 victims shot in 42 incidents — roughly 60% of those incidents occurred between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. A “good percentage” of that gun violence, the commissioner said, occurred on weekends and Sundays.

Police are particularly focused this summer on containing violence at parties, and preventing “revelers” from coming to Boston with off-road vehicles like ATVs and dirt bikes, which the drivers use for drag racing and to blare loud speakers. That vehicular activity disrupts the city’s quality of life and represents a primary complaint for BPD, Cox said.

Late-night drag racing involving 15 vehicles disrupted residents in Back Bay last month, and police arrested seven people, towed five cars and seized several large speakers from late-night “revelers” in Dorchester on Monday.

Cox issued a warning to other thrill-seekers: “Do not come to the city to engage in this activity because we will seize your vehicles and equipment.”


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