How's That Violent Crime Reduction Going?

Without fail, in the past three years, every time a prominent Boston Police Department official claims that violent crime is dropping, the city is quickly hit with a spate of violence. Never has the repudiation come so quickly and severely as it has following the August 1 Boston Globe article, "City's Crime Numbers Dive," in which we read the following:

Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis attributed the decline to an increased police presence in the neighborhoods, targeted investigations, and arrests of suspects police believed were responsible for shootings. He also cited resources added to the city's job, youth, and recreation programs.

"We believe that an increased visibility and a better connection to the community has resulted in a reduction of violent crime," he said in an interview yesterday. "I know that works, so I expect the downward trend to continue."

That story appeared Wednesday. That night, in the early-morning hours, a triple-shooting in Roxbury left two young men dead and a third in critical condition. Roughly 24 hours after that, early Friday morning, an alleged road-rage incident on Blue Hill Avenue killed an 18-year-old woman and left another passenger in a coma. Later Friday morning, another reported road-rage incident killed a bicyclist in the South End. Early Saturday morning, a 25-year-old woman was shot to death in Roxbury. Saturday afternoon, a man in his 30s was shot and killed, execution-style according to reports, in Roxbury. Saturday night, a man in his 40s was stabbed to death near the Dorchester/Mattapan line.

The unfortunate truth is that violence has not abated in Boston -- over the past three months, aggravated assaults are actually up four percent over the same period last year, according to the same BPD data used for the "numbers dive" claim.

The good news, and it is good news, is that the number of shooting victims is down significantly -- although only down to 2005 levels. The bad news, and it is very bad news, is that we are very much on pace for another 75-murder year. For the time being, nobody should be claiming success.


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