Stanching Violence in Boston's Inner City

By Will Roseliep & Danielle Dreilinger

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Mar. 20, 2012

marcus hurd

Marcus Hurd, the only survivor of a quadruple homicide in Mattapan, testifies this month. (Wendy Maeda/AP)

 
BOSTON — Violent crime across the U.S. has gone down in recent years, but in major metro areas it's remained persistent. Boston has been no exception — a fact brought home this week as jurors in a Mattapan quadruple-murder trial struggled to decide on a verdict. And within the span of one week last month, Boston saw an acute spike in violence that culminated in three deadly shootings. 
 
In an effort to change what he calls "a culture of violence," Boston Ten Point Coalition founder Rev. Jeffrey Brown brought faith leaders, law enforcement officials, and policy makers together on Mar. 12-13 for a summit in Washington, D.C. The initiative is called RECAP: Rebuilding Every City Around Peace and it has a particular focus on gang and youth violence.
 
The idea behind the conference was to discuss how clergy and police could work together to curb crime, and Brown saw promising signs. 25 cities were represented, with police executives from 11 of them. "They're looking for ways in which they could really in some ways move forward — fresh new ideas around anti-violence strategies and to work more closely with the community in order to make this happen," he said.
 
Boston has seen some success recently by making law enforcement more visible in the community. Randall Halstead, deputy superintendent with the Boston Police Department, said the department has joined forces with clergy and community members to help cut down on drug trafficking and violent crime. 

 

He's noticed a huge change in police attitude and procedure from when he first joined the force in the 1980s.
 
"The frame of mind then was to go out and arrest, arrest, arrest," Halstead said. "What I find now that we changed our format and our proactive approach, since we know that the majority of the criminal activity is carried out by the same 1 to 2 percent of individuals, while we're on patrol we stop and we speak to them. And they get to know us, we get to know them."
 
It's work sorely needed. "In my entire high school career I only went to one funeral," Brown said — two kids who died in a car accident. "Now you have people who in their ninth-grade year will look forward to going to at least a dozen funerals … of people in their neighborhood who have been killed by violence."
 



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