When the police department’s job is not getting done: Boston Is a Shooters’ Paradise
The problem may that tax cuts leading to budget cuts have started to undermine the capability of the police department—it’s under-staffed, under-trained, under-equipped—rather than the police are incompetent. And budgets have been cut. “Work smarter, not harder.” “Do more with less.” “Think outside the box.” And so on: those work only up to a point. Some major police departments may be beyond that point. Or it may be simple incompetence and lack of understanding and current knowledge and best practices. I wonder how much open-sourcing there is among police departments, describing best practices, reforms that worked, reforms that failed and reasons for failure, detecting and corroborating corruption, and so on. Probably there are dozens of big forums devoted exactly to that: professional development and departmental improvement.
David Bernstein writes in Boston magazine:
It’s a Thursday afternoon in Roxbury, and as always the Grove Hall intersection on Blue Hill Avenue is bustling with action. Behind the street-front window of a salon, a young woman gets her hair dyed a bright shade of blue while customers flip through magazines and gossip. Several teenage girls giggle while crossing the street. In front of the wide windows of the Rainbow clothing store, a woman carries a small Minnie Mouse backpack for the toddler walking beside her. Up the road, a trio of rappers—dubbed Real, P-Nice, and Tone Tekk—freestyle back and forth. There is not a single visible sign that in this very spot earlier today, someone yanked out a gun and shot a man in the back.
The shooter was downright brazen, firing his gun in a busy commercial intersection in broad daylight before fleeing. He could afford to be so—whether he knew it or not: Boston police almost never arrest anyone for non-fatal shootings.
It seems obvious that people who commit such a crime—who point a loaded gun at someone and pull the trigger, indifferent to the lives of their intended victim or bystanders—should be arrested, prosecuted, and incarcerated. Few things should be higher on a police department’s priority list. Yet that’s not something the BPD or the district attorney’s office typically do.
During a six-month investigation, Boston obtained police records through a public information request and examined 618 shootings over 994 days, from the start of 2014 through September 20, 2016. The results were staggering: During that time frame, Boston police had arrested fewer than 4 percent of gunmen involved in non-fatal shootings. That means, for instance, that detectives have not arrested anyone for shooting 14-year-old Keira Harrison three times as she watched Fourth of July fireworks on Bower Street this past summer. And police have not captured whoever shot a 15-year-old in South Boston in August, or the person who shot a seven-year-old on Bowdoin Street. In fact, the data revealed that police had not made a single arrest in any of the 19 non-fatal shootings of Boston minors under age 17. (And that was before the October shootings of two-year-old and nine-year-old girls in separate incidents.)
Not that the BPD is doing such a great job of locking up murderers, either: During the same time . . .