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October 1, 2004


Bolsters efforts to fight violent crime across the Commonwealth


Governor Mitt Romney today announced a stepped-up effort to crack down on gang violence, unwrapping $1.5 million in state anti-gang funds for Boston and Springfield.


“Nothing troubles me more than watching a child’s future shatter in a blast of violence,” said Romney. “Our call for action will give law enforcement officials additional resources to protect the lives of our children and their families.”


Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey agreed, saying, “As someone who has spent much of her professional life focusing on troubled youth, I am deeply concerned about recent trends in gang-related activity. One victim of gang violence is one victim too many and the Governor and I are prepared to do whatever is necessary to keep our neighborhoods safe.”


Of the funds approved by Romney as part of the recent supplemental spending bill passed by the Legislature, $600,000 will be dedicated to Boston and $900,000 will be targeted to Springfield.


“Funding for anti-gang programs, such as that approved by the Legislature and Governor, is an essential tool in the battle to keep neighborhoods safe for all of our residents,” said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “This money will go a long way to help ensure the continued safety of our children and prevent them from becoming another statistic. I thank the state for its quick response a situation that not only affects the people of the City of Boston, but the future and success of our Commonwealth.”


Romney lauded Mayor Menino and Boston Police Commissioner Kathleen O’Toole for stepping up efforts in the City of Boston to keep children and families safe from harm.


Boston’s Operation Neighborhood Shield, a joint law enforcement endeavor aimed at curtailing violence in the Hub’s streets, is a collaborative enforcement approach that engages partnerships forged over the past 10 years with the community, clergy and other law enforcement agencies, including the Massachusetts State Police.


“The $600,000 Boston will receive will help the department’s continuing effort to rid our neighborhoods of criminal impact players and make our city safer for everyone,” said O’Toole.


“We commend Governor Romney and the Legislature for supporting our commitment to ensure that Boston’s neighborhoods are safe and vibrant places to live,” she added.


Since Operation Neighborhood Shield’s inception in early August, homicides in the city dropped by 27 percent compared to the prior month. Non-fatal shootings during that same period also dropped 54 percent and the number of firearms recovered was up 53 percent. Boston Police made 440 arrests, took 43 guns off the street and seized 173 pounds of marijuana and recovered more than 1,500 rounds of ammunition.


Romney noted that the state provides not only financial, but also tactical support to municipal police departments statewide to combat gang activity. The Massachusetts State Police Gang Unit’s statewide operation accounts for approximately 1,200 to 1,500 arrests a year on average. In addition, he noted that the state budget for Fiscal Year 2005 contains funding to add two new State Police classes.


“The Massachusetts State Police has emerged as a critical source of strategic and tactical support for our cities and towns combating the most serious crimes,” said Public Safety Secretary Edward A. Flynn. “From homeland security to gang violence, the state is committing its strongest assets to tackle the crimes that don’t know jurisdictional boundaries.”



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