Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said Thursday that he hopes to cut gun crimes in half this summer during Boston’s most violent months: July and August, when the city typically sees about 37 shootings each month.
The department’s ranks were boosted as 28 members of the force were promoted and one new officer was named to the force during a ceremony Thursday.
Davis said those promotions represent the department’s efforts to fill vacancies in preparation for a summertime assault on youth violence.
“We’re going to have a full court press on those months this year,” said Davis. “We’re going to do a lot of preventive work leading up to those months, there’s going to be a significant amount of attention paid to the impact players in the city. We want them to put their weapons down.”
Major crimes in the city have dropped 15 percent, he told the crowd assembled for the ceremony, held at the Shelburne Community Center in Roxbury; violent crime has dropped 14 percent, and arrests are down 11 percent.
“Prevention is alive and well in the city of Boston,” he said.
Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who walked through the auditorium slowed both by his gait and by well-wishers stopping for handshakes, lauded Davis’ efforts at community policing and called the Boston Police Department “the best in the nation.”
The officers assembled before him, he said, have 486 years of combined experience on the streets that they will bring to their new positions.
“We must continue . . . to stop violence in our neighborhoods, and make sure that everyone in Boston has a safe summer,” said Menino. “We need to stay strong in our will to promote peace, to make our neighborhoods safer, to give our young people the opportunity they need to succeed in life.”
Among those promoted in the command staff were Kevin J. Buckley, former deputy-superintendent of Criminal Investigative Division, which oversees investigations, including homicides, who was promoted to superintendent of the Bureau of Investigative Services; and William G. Gross, former deputy-superintendent of the Field Support Division, who was promoted to superintendent in charge of night command city-wide.
While major crimes are down in the city, gun violence has risen slightly in the first three months of the year: gun arrests are up 8 percent and fatal and nonfatal shootings are up 6 percent compared with the same period last year, according to statistics supplied by police. Both Buckley and Gross said their focus would be on community outreach, and targeted police-work — zeroing in on high-crime areas.
“You can never forget where you came from,” said Gross, who grew up in the area of Edgemont Street in Dorchester. “The first priority is to maintain the connections I’ve had over the past 28½ years with the stakeholders in the community . . . that’s what works.”
Gross said that youth violence is always a concern, especially in the summer, and connecting young people with jobs and mentors will go a long way toward stemming it.
Buckley said that he will work on increased training for officers in areas of crime scene response, interviewing, and video recovery, among other things. Police will spend the summer targeting individuals and areas known for gun violence, he said.
“Gang violence, gun violence, is always a concern in the summertime,” he said. “I think we have a good plan in place, a good deployment strategy. Putting officers on the street in key areas. Our big thing is we’re working with the community in investigations.”
Buckley has been with the department for 30 years, according to a spokeswoman, and Gross for 27 and a half years.
Juan J. Torres was promoted from sergeant to deputy superintendent of the Bureau of Investigative Services. He has been on the force for 26 years.
Also promoted to sergeant along with seven other police officers was Edward T. Norton, who was honored for heroism in December after leaping into the frigid Boston Harbor to save a woman screaming for help in the water. Norton was promoted to sergeant.