In 2007, Safe Street Teams were created to foster police and the community engagement on a more personal level. Originally piloted in three of Boston’s high-crime areas, they are now spread throughout the City in fourteen neighborhoods:
Egleston Square (E-13), South End/Lower Roxbury (D-4), Franklin Field (B-2), Eagle Hill/Maverick (A-7), Orchard Park (B-2), Codman Square (C-11), Codman Square (B-3), Downtown Crossing (A-1), Tremont/Stuart Street (A-1), Blue Hill Ave./Morton St. (B-3), Bowdoin-Geneva (C-11), Grove Hall (B-2), Upham’s Corner (B-2), Franklin Hill (B-3)
Safe Street Teams provide a reassuring presence in neighborhoods through walking the beat and focusing on proactive and preventive measures to reduce crime, enforce public safety and improve the quality of life in the areas they are assigned.
Safe Street Teams demonstrate the community policing philosophy that the Boston Police Department operates under. They strengthen ties within the community, address quality of life issues and deter crime. These teams focus on creating a clean, safe and orderly environment, increase positive interaction with the residents – specifically local youth, and they listen to the concerns of community members while assisting with tangible solutions.
Currently there are 14 Safe Street Teams in 13 Boston neighborhoods. The Boston Police Department would like to expand these teams into more of our neighborhoods. Safe Street Teams are invaluable in building trusting and reducing crime in Boston’s neighborhoods.
Safe Street Teams are comprised of line-level, district-based officers who patrol, on foot, high-crime beats (or “hot spots”) within inner city neighborhoods. On any given day, team members can be found interacting with residents, responding to community concerns, and are highly visible in the neighborhoods, developing partnerships with local businesses and community organizations, conducting outreach with high-risk youth, and providing referrals to services, while also maintaining the safety of the area. Safe Street Teams offer more than simply foot patrol. These walking beats lead officers to develop a sense of ownership, engaging in strategic problem solving, sustained presence and guardianship. Also, officers develop other competent guardians of community safety in the process –such as local business owners and community members who assist in promoting safety standards.
Safe Street Teams have been successful in bringing together partners from faith- and community-based organizations, other law enforcement agencies and City departments to support and empower patrol officers in neighborhoods with intelligence, resources and referral information.
The City of Boston saw decreases in overall crime across the Safe Street Team sites. Specifically, from October 2007 to March 2008 these areas experienced a collective 12% decrease in violent crime.Since inception, the Safe Street Team has been implemented in other areas of the City. The decrease in crime continues, community feedback is extremely positive and the changes in the neighborhoods are visible and tangible.
The Boston Police Department's weekly cable show which offers community members safety tips, a recap of weekly events and entertaining interviews with department personnel. Viewers cans also watch 'Call the Cops' live every Wednesday from 8:00pm- 8:30pm on BNN Comcast Ch. 9/RCN Ch. 15
COMPSTAT is a multifaceted and interactive approach to crime control and quality of life improvement strategy development, as well as personnel and resource management. During bi-weekly meetings held at the BPD Headquarters, the Department’s command staff convenes in a formal structure to review and discuss current crime trends and patterns within each of the City’s eleven police districts. In attendance are: Department Command Staff, District Commanders, specialized unit commanders (such as Homicide, Domestic Violence, and Narcotics) and representatives from other relevant support offices (such as Neighborhood Crime Watch and Research & Development), as well as officers from the MBTA police. These meetings empower district commanders to address crime problems in their own neighborhoods through increased strategic planning and resource coordination at the local level.
An integral component of the COMPSTAT meetings is the presentation of crime data analysis and the geographic mapping of crime trends. The Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC) generates tables and maps illustrating recent and long-term crime trends within each district that make it possible to detect patterns and Hot Spots of activity that require a strategic response. In addition, the Department utilizes a live mapping software program – CrimeShow – that allows for the instant analysis of trends or patterns identified during a meeting to aid discussion and strategy development.
Through the course of COMPSTAT discussions, Department Command Staff often identifies and documents successful programs and best practices occurring in districts throughout the City. When new trends and challenges are identified, action items are recorded for future COMPSTAT meetings. These processes ensure that the Department is continually improving its practices and evolving to address the changing needs of its communities.
The BRIC leads the way in intelligence gathering and analysis. The use of intelligence is fundamental in the BPD’s strategy to reduce gang and gun violence in the City of Boston. Intelligence provides us with the ability to make more informed judgments and take the necessary actions to effectively counter the activities of crime organizations, individuals, terrorism, and conditions that promote criminal activity.
The BRIC gathers valuable information that helps us to identify major impact players, to locate where shootings and gang violence occurs and provides us with a lens to better understand the complex nature of gangs.
The BRIC also supplies intelligence to improve our counter-terrorism capacity and identifies and monitors ex-offenders returning to our neighborhoods.
In October 2007, the Department went live with Shot Spotter, an acoustical technology that helps us locate a precise location where and provides an immediate notification when shots have been fired. On average, notifications arrive between 1 and 2 minutes prior to 911 calls, and in some instances they arrive without ever receiving a 911 call. This technology helps us improve response time, identify hotspot areas, recover evidence and locate individuals in possession of guns.
The Boston Police Department has a long history of promoting partnership in both the public and private sectors to reduce violence and strengthen public safety initiatives. In 2007, the Boston Police Department teamed up with Hill Holliday to create the Text-A-Tip program.
Text-A-Tip is an innovative communications tool that engages the community and helps us in our mission to reduce violence. Text-A-Tip is an anonymous text messaging tip line. Anytime, anywhere individuals can simply text the word “tip” to Crime (27463) and report a crime. Although now available in various cities throughout the US, the City of Boston was the first to implement this creative initiative.
Hill Holliday generously created and marketed this program. They developed thought-provoking ads that were placed in bus shelters and street level stands in the highest crime neighborhoods. The MBTA donated ad space in subway cars, platforms and inside buses. Also, radio stations agreed to donate airtime to play Public Service Announcements throughout the city during peak hours.
In 2007, we received 523 text tips, a noteworthy amount considering the program began in June 2007. To date, Text-A-Tip remains a success. Tips received have led to drug, gang, and violent crime arrests.
Formed in August 2008, the Street Outreach Team (SOT) consists of a two-person unit that was established to address issues of public disorder, the needs of the homelessness, chronic substance abusers and individuals with mental illness. The Street Outreach Team focuses on a small but high-impacting group of individuals, as well as proactively addressing problems and challenges they encounter during this work.
The team utilizes proactive problem-solving to address the needs of priority individuals, as well as maintain regular communication and coordination with partners in crisis planning. This work can be daunting but we value patience, compassion and sensitivity to individuals struggling with addiction and mental illness; while balancing the needs of public safety.
Over the past year and a half, they have built strong working relationships with mental health agencies, service providers, shelter outreach personnel, Community Service Officers, and the courts.
In October of 2009, Mayor Thomas Menino in conjunction with the Boston Police Department launched a community policing initiative known as the “Constituent Response Team” (CRT). CRT proactively identifies and analyzes recurring quality of life issues through new technology that will compare data through computerized mapping. The BPD analyze data from multiple sources to examine trends and patterns in citizen complaints for minor crimes, nuisances, social disorder such as loitering, unruly youth, public drinking, loud music and also physical disorder such as abandoned buildings, graffiti, litter and vacant lots.
The CRT is compromised of the officers from the Boston Police Department as well as representation from the Public Works Department, Transportation, Department of Neighborhood Services, Code Enforcement, the Parks and Recreation Department, Graffiti Busters and Basic City Services.
Through computerized mapping and other data manipulations, these analyses focus on identifying the places and people that generate a disproportionate amount of citizen complaints for quality of life issues. Data on recurring quality of life issues is collected from BPD incident and arrest data for minor crimes and disorderly offenses, BPD citizen calls for service data, complaint data from the Mayor’s Hotline that are relevant to social and physical disorder concerns, and information reported by City Hall Neighborhood Liaisons and BPD Community Service Officers (CSOs).
The CRT initiative includes bi-monthly interagency meetings hosted by Boston Police District Captains to review trends, patterns, and recurring problems. Particular attention will be focused on addressing “hot spots” of disorderly behavior in the relevant community as well as repeat offenders who generate a large number of complaints.
Residents help drive the work of the CRT, which focuses significantly on service requests logged through the Mayor's Hotline. Last year, the City of Boston launched a state-of-the-art tracking system for all constituent requests. Constituents can log requests by calling the Mayor's Hotline (617-635-4500) or by visiting the City's website (www.cityofboston.gov); both are available 24-hours a day.
Every police district has a Neighborhood Advisory Council that meets regularly, partners with the BPD on problem solving initiatives, and helps in the decision making process on police services in that particular District.
Building on the successful Operation Ceasefire model, the Boston Police Department has convened action-oriented interagency working groups focused on preventing outbreaks of serious gun violence in Districts 2, 3, 4, and 11. These working groups meet bi-weekly to review recent gun incidents and ongoing gang violence problems. Depending on the nature of the problem, appropriate violence reduction plans that blend enforcement, intervention, and prevention strategies are developed and implemented. These working groups strive to prevent violence by communicating to gangs that violence will not be tolerated in Boston, pulling every enforcement lever available to halt violent offending, and working with community-based partners to provide social services and opportunities to youth.
The Boston Police Department has continued their partnerships with other law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, probation and the community to curb youth violence in the city. A Cease Fire working group of key stakeholders continues to meet biweekly to review youth violence in the city. The main goal of the working group is to focus strong and targeted enforcement pressure on those gangs members involved in violent crime, while at the same time offer alternatives to the gang lifestyle. This strategy is often referred to as the Operation Ceasefire or a “pulling levers” approach.
A large percentage of gang members are under court imposed supervision, be it probation, parole or DYS supervision. By being under court imposed supervision violent individuals are subject to a wide range of court imposed penalties including curfews, area restrictions, probation surrenders and enhanced prosecution efforts, both on a federal and state level. Gang members under court imposed supervision are checked at their homes by teams of Police and Probation Officers to ensure they are obeying the terms of probation including their curfews. If a person is in violation they are subject to a probation surrender hearing which can place back into custody.
Another tactic used in Operation Ceasefire is a “Call In”. “Call Ins” are used when a pattern emerges in which a particular gang engages in a series of violent activities. At a “Call In” 6 – 20 or more gang members associated with the violence are called into court for a meeting with criminal justice professionals and community based agencies. At the meeting, a carrot and stick approach is used to send a message to the gang. Our intention is to let gang members to know - we know who they are and what they are involved in. If the cycle of violence continues we will do everything in our power to eliminate the violence thru aggressive law enforcement and enhanced prosecution. We also offer them alternatives and services available to them if they want to straighten out their lives and end the violence. This requires considerable commitment by the local community based agencies to ensure that youth receive viable alternatives to violence and the gang lifestyle.
Direct communication with the violent gang members regarding their behavior, coupled with effective suppression strategies and legitimate alternatives are the foundation for Operation Cease Fire.
Operation Homefront is a national award-winning collaboration between the BPD School Police Unit, Youth Violence Strike Force, Boston Public School Police and Faith-Based Organizations. Homefront operates under the premise that the family is the first line of defense against gang/criminal activity among youth. Home visits are conducted on a weekly basis via referrals from various Boston Police officers, Boston Public Schools, law enforcement agencies, community based service providers and clergy. Parents are informed about their son/daughter’s negative behavior and are educated on the warning signs of criminal and/or gang involvement. This collaborative effort sends a strong message to the students involved that their actions will not be tolerated at school, in the community and most importantly, in the home. In situations that warrant more services than a home visit can provide, the School Police Unit makes referrals to the clinical staff (social workers) at the Youth Service Providers Network (YSPN).
The School Police Unit made approximately 550 home visits under Operation Homefront.
Officers report an 80% success rate
Over 50 faith-based partners have collaborated
Over 100 schools have received an intervention for either the student body or individual student.
The CO-OP is a three person independent civilian board appointed by the Mayor that reviews Internal Investigations cases appealed by complainants.
The Panel reviews cases involving allegations of serious misconduct and justified use of force with findings of not sustained, exonerated or unfounded. The CO-OP also reviews a random sample, up to 10%, of all not sustained, exonerated or unfounded complaints. This integrity check upon case process and investigation allows us to constantly review our practices for continued improvement.
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