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Boston police to work with city leaders, local clergy to keep peace in summer

Boston Police Commissioner William Gross in March.
Boston Police Commissioner William Gross in March.(Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/File)

Boston police, elected officials, local clergy, and advocates on Monday said they’ll use a number of strategies in an effort to reduce violence this summer, a time when shootings and other attacks have historically spiked.

The authorities and advocates met for about 90 minutes behind closed doors at Boston police headquarters before briefing reporters on their anti-violence plan, which includes youth jobs, union apprenticeships for young people with criminal histories, teen and citizen police academies, community events such as peace walks, and deploying officers to hot spots throughout the city.

“Trust me, folks, it’s only 1½ to 2 percent [of residents] that are actually driving the [violence] numbers to the negative,” said Police Commissioner William Gross during the news conference.

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He said police officials hold weekly “deployment meetings” to determine where a visible law enforcement presence is required.

“We will work with everyone you see here for our summer safety strategy to deploy accordingly, where we’re needed,” Gross said, referring to the elected officials and community stakeholders who appeared with him at the news conference.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh said during the briefing that city officials have noticed victims of violent crime trending older in recent years, with the average victim’s age increasing to nearly 30 in Boston in 2018.

Officials and local clergy are working to determine how to reach at-risk adults in their mid to late 20s with “better services,” Walsh said.

Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins also spoke, directly addressing city residents during her remarks.

“This is our job to solve crime, not yours,” Rollins said. “But we do need your help in this process.”

Among the local clergy in attendance was Rev. Gary Adams of Morning Star Baptist Church in Mattapan.

The aim of the meeting, Adams said afterward, was to focus on creating a “safe summer environment where young people can enjoy it when they go out to the parks. . . . We’re always wondering how we can be more effective in reaching these at-risk” young people.

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“That is a question that we wrestle with all the time,” Adams said.

Adams added that many people in the city are working to reduce violence.

“There are so many people out there who we know are in the trenches, who we know are working effectively and working very hard to make a difference,” Adams said.


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