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Violent crime declined in the city in 2021, property crimes also reported down, Boston police say

Boston Police Headquarters.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Violent crime in Boston fell by 15 percent in 2021, and property crime dipped by 13 percent as the city’s sworn officers “continued to drive down” those numbers while arresting fewer people, the Police Department said Thursday.

Boston police confirmed the data in a statement posted to the department’s official website in an end of year crime report for 2021.

“These crime statistics are a continued reflection of the steadfast commitment of the men and women, sworn and civilian, of the Boston Police Department in providing public safety to every neighborhood across the City of Boston,” said Boston police Superintendent-in-Chief Gregory Long in the statement.

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Long added that through “intelligence-led and data-driven policing, an enduring focus on enhancing community partnerships, and unwavering resiliency, the members of the Boston Police Department were able to reduce violent crime significantly to improve the quality of life for all of Boston’s residents.”

According to the statement, homicides and total shooting victims saw a “significant reduction,” with 40 murders in 2021 compared to 56 in 2020. The 2021 tally was 20 percent below the five-year average, police said.

The statement said there were 198 shooting victims in Boston in 2021, 76 fewer than in 2020 and 14 percent below the five-year average. Shooting reports also dropped in 2021 by 64 incidents compared to 2020, officials said.

The statement said violent crime - including homicide, rape, attempted rape, robbery, and aggravated assault - fell 20 percent in 2021 compared to the five-year average, and 15 percent compared to 2020.

Police added that overall, so-called part one crime - including violent offenses and property crimes like burglary, larceny, and auto theft - dropped 13 percent in 2021 compared to 2020. Part one crime also, police said, saw “a 38% reduction over the past 10 years, and was down 18% compared to the 5-year average.”

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In addition, the streets got safer as fewer people got arrested, according to police.

The statement said that by keying on people “driving the violence” and providing help to those who aren’t, police in 2021 arrested 3 percent fewer suspects than in 2020 and 50 percent fewer since 2016.

Also in 2021, police said, officers took 833 guns off the street.

“Policing is not an easy profession, and the demands on our officers are many and frequent,” Long said. “I want to thank each officer of the Boston Police Department for the courage, compassion, and professionalism they display every day.”

Long also lauded community leaders and residents who helped law enforcement.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the clergy, our valued community partners and residents, and all of our law enforcement partners,” Long said. “Thank you for your collaboration and work on behalf of Boston’s citizens.”

The crime data came on the same day that Mayor Michelle Wu announced the makeup of a search committee tasked with finding candidates to fill the post of Boston police commissioner on a permanent basis. Long’s currently serving is interim commissioner.

Justice Geraldine Hines, a retired member of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, will serve as chair of the committee.

The panel will also include former Boston police commissioner Ed Davis; Bishop William E. Dickerson II, senior pastor at the Greater Love Tabernacle Church; Abrigal Forrester, the executive director of Teen Empowerment; and Jasmine Gonzales Rose, a law professor and deputy director of research and policy at Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research.

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Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.