With violence down statewide, police chiefs, DAs tout collaboration and community engagement

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FRAMINGHAM — More than a dozen local law enforcement officials gathered Tuesday at a roundtable at Massachusetts State Police headquarters to discuss largely effective efforts nationwide. state to reduce violent crime last summer.

“Summer is the tough time. Children are out of school and things can happen,” said Terrence Reidy, secretary of the state’s Executive Office of Public Safety.

Reidy and other officials paid tribute to a collaboration between state police, local law enforcement and their community partners that has been funded by a federal grant awarding a total of $1 million to nine district attorney offices. Another $500,000 went to five municipal police departments in partnership with the state police.

With certain restrictions, recipients could be flexible in how they chose to spend the money, but a key condition of the grant was that the funds also be used for law enforcement and community outreach.

“It’s cliché, but it’s true that you can’t stop to get out of a problem,” Reidy said. “An important factor is getting the right people off the streets. . . [but] it’s also about collaboration and coordination with the community.

Reidy added that the goal of the summer initiative was to bring the shots down to zero.

“Is it realistic? ” He asked. “Probably not, but that’s the goal.”

Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden says the initiative has led to several positive outcomes, including the discovery of two ghost gun factories making parts for illegal guns and the hiring of a community engagement coordinator to better respond to the harmful effects of neighborhood violence.

“Bringing back intervention and prevention to an increasing extent is key,” said Hayden, whose office received just over $93,000 for the summer. “Community engagement is how we build knowledge about where to put our resources.”

Officials said the initiative has helped deter violence in other parts of the state, including Brockton, which along with Lawrence received $180,000 to work with state troopers. From July to October, homicides and aggravated assaults with a firearm are down in Brockton this year compared to last year, officials said. July-September assaults also declined this year in Springfield, which was awarded $110,000 with Holyoke Police. Boston, the fifth city to receive funding — totaling $160,000 — also reported a year-over-year decrease in violent crime this summer.

In addition, state officials said summertime policing operations resulted in the seizure of more than 40 kilograms of heroin and fentanyl and nearly 3 kilograms of cocaine and crack.

Meanwhile, law enforcement officials said community outreach money is being spent more creatively on a myriad of violence prevention and response programs.

Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey set aside a percentage of the $98,500 his office received specifically for the town of Randolph, where police used the money to pay officers to regularly meet with teenagers. Meanwhile, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan used much of the $100,000 awarded to her office to provide children and young adults awaiting mental health treatment with temporary “relay” services, to help reduce the 78-day lag the average youngster spends waiting for hospital placement.

Expressing shared hope among local police for continued funding, Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox said he would use the initiative to solicit feedback from residents on how officers could better collaborate with organizers. community.

“It doesn’t always have to be an all-out police initiative,” he said. “We want to empower the community to help us [so that we’re] able to deal with violence in a different way.


Ivy Scott can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @itsivyscott.

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