Boston police Commissioner William B. Evans on Thursday urged residents of a neighborhood plagued by violence to help officers rid the streets of illegal guns and steer youths away from gangs.
Speaking during a community meeting at the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church on Humboldt Avenue in Dorchester, Evans told a crowd of about 50 that “day in and day out, we see way too many guns.”
He urged the attendees to contact police if they know where illegal guns are being stored or if they know of young people who may benefit from services before they become involved in gang activity.
The forum, which members of Evans’s command staff also attended, followed a meeting last week between police officials and clergy on violence prevention. That session was held after four people in their 20s were fatally shot in Dorchester and Mattapan between Jan. 24 and 27.
On Thursday, residents at the meeting submitted written questions to Evans that touched on a range of issues, including staffing levels for street workers who help at-risk youth, and training for homicide detectives on interacting with female relatives of victims.
Councilor-at-Large Ayanna Pressley said more job training and other services should be available for young adults who have committed crimes.
“A lot of these programs seem to cap out at 17,” Pressley said. “Everyone’s not going to have it together by 17.”
Ronald Hill, 66, who lost a son to gun violence, argued passionately for installing more surveillance cameras on the street.
“The cameras reduce the crime dramatically,” he said.
Police Superintendent-in-Chief William G. Gross stressed that law-abiding members of the public must work closely with police to keep their neighborhoods safe.
“If there’s one thing the bad guys love to see, they love to see us at each other's throats,” Gross said.
In a gesture of unity, the Rev. Miniard Culpepper, pastor of the church, asked police and attendees to join hands as he prayed that their collective efforts would succeed, especially in the summer months, when violence often spikes.
Culpepper prayed that “we will find peace, harmony, love, and victory.”Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.