Boston police will have extra patrols in the city’s neighborhoods to deal with large parties in coming days, as the temperature heats up and the Fourth of July approaches, city officials said Friday.
Speaking at a press conference in front of the Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said the holiday is “always a challenging time” for the department. Last year, 15 people were shot over July Fourth weekend in 10 separate incidents, said Evans.
“Traditionally, it’s been a violent weekend,” he said.
The department worries about large, loud parties throughout the city, as well as people setting off fireworks illegally, he said.
“We’re going to have a lot of extra patrols in these neighborhoods where we’ve seen an uptick in violence around July Fourth, but also to address parties throughout the city,” he said.
The celebration on the Esplanade is a two-day event, with a concert on Tuesday, July 3, and then the main event on the Fourth, with another concert and fireworks display.
“Have a good time, but please, let’s see no one get hurt,” said Evans.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston said that there will be an increased presence at the Esplanade for those events but indicated that move would not come at the expense of policing the city’s neighborhoods.
Evans said the last few years, the department “has seen a real increase” in illicit fireworks displays. Both Evans and Walsh reiterated that fireworks are illegal. Evans implored the public to keep them away for children, while Walsh mentioned that given the time of year and temperature, such pyrotechnics could be a fire hazard.
Evans referenced a 2015 incident in Dorchester where a 9-year-old’s hand was blown off and a 5-year-old was seriously injured in a fireworks explosion.
“They aren’t harmless,” said Evans.
For the Fourth celebrations on the Esplanade, Evans said there will be large vehicles used to block off the “feeder streets” as a crowd control measure in the area. He also said undercover officers will watch revelers who approach the Esplanade. Alluding to a mass shooting in Las Vegas last year where a gunman killed dozens after he opened fire from the 32nd-floor room of a hotel, Evans said that Boston police will have “aerial support” on rooftops of buildings near the Esplanade. He encouraged the public to keep coolers and backpacks at home.
Evans said the hot weather concerns him because that means more people will be “out and about.”
Walsh also declared a heat emergency for the city starting Saturday, with the temperature expected to top 90. Boston Centers for Youth & Families will open “cooling centers” throughout the city, and the city’s 17 pools will also be open to the public, he said. He encouraged those in the city to avoid outdoor exercise and to stay hydrated.