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Mayor Menino acts now for safer summer

Crime prevention, putting youths to work are top priorities

Mayor Thomas M. Menino is expected to outline a preemptive push to stanch summertime violence Wednesday, seeking to stop crime now with the hope of preventing retaliation in July and August.

The effort, which has been the subject of City Hall meetings for the past two months, will incorporate police, public health officials, the School Department, and youth workers. It will include police detectives walking beats in high-crime areas, an initiative to provide summer jobs for young adults over 19, and coordination with prison officials to visit inmates slated for release.

The city will use $227,000 in federal money to hire five “violence interrupters,’’ workers in Mattapan who will try to develop relationships with gang members and defuse conflicts. Two outreach workers will be dispatched to the Bowdoin-Geneva section of Dorchester to get more young people involved in constructive summertime activities.


The Menino administration has been aggressively trying to expand its summer jobs initiative and is in talks with 50 local companies that have never participated in the program, which has a goal of finding work for 10,000 young people.

“The mayor will unveil a very targeted strategy for summer,’’ said Menino’s spokeswoman, Dot Joyce. The effort will “aggressively focus on specific areas of our city and specific individuals who perpetrate the majority of the crime,’’ she said.

Menino will discuss the plan at a press conference at City Hall, where he will be joined by Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis; Daphne Griffin, the city’s chief of human services; Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission; and other top city officials.

Summertime violence is an age-old problem for urban areas after school ends. Thousands of young people face unstructured days and idle time that can often lead to trouble.

“It’s what any parent of a 14-year-old faces every summer: How are we going to fill up this time?’’ said Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. “It makes sense to have multiple approaches because there is no single answer.’’


In Boston, roughly 30 percent of homicides are retaliatory, which is why law enforcement and other officials are ramping up efforts now to try to stop violent paybacks in July and August. This year, police and other city officials will continue to focus on young people who have been in trouble with the law and those teetering on the edge.

But the city does not plan to limit its efforts to teenagers. The Police Department’s daytime drug unit, which was deployed in South Boston after the killing of a 67-year-old grandmother, will begin work in other neighborhoods.

Officials hope to launch 75 neighborhood crime watches by July 1, increasing the number citywide to roughly 250. Police also plan to install 34 surveillance cameras in crime hotspots.

The city also intends to designate more “problem properties,’’ a distinction for apartment buildings, houses, and other dwellings notorious for crime, drugs, or garbage. The designation can come with a police cruiser parked outside a property or a sign that flashes “problem property’’ and a phone number to report violations.

“Residents really like it,’’ said Emmett Folgert of the Dorchester Youth Collaborative. “People will often say: ‘How can this apartment building go on like this? We all know what’s going on.’ . . . This shows that the city cares.’’


Andrew Ryan can be reached at acryan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeandrewryan.