BOSTON – Thursday, May 10, 2007 – Prior to the first meeting of the new Anti-Crime Council, Governor Deval Patrick today announced a $15 million anti-crime plan to put more police on the street and to combat youth violence across Massachusetts.
“With summer school vacation just around the corner, communities struggling with gang and gun violence must have the resources they need to keep their streets safe,” Governor Patrick said. “We want our kids to make positive choices in life, and our job, not just as government officials but as adults, is to create safe spaces for them to exercise those good choices.”
A supplemental budget to be filed today includes $11 million for grants under the Senator Charles E. Shannon Community Safety Initiative and $4 million for the hiring and training of new police officers.
“Our response to crime must be firm. The funds we are putting on the table will allow new well-trained, well-equipped officers to provide a familiar presence in communities, a proven strategy in stemming gang violence,” Governor Patrick said. “I look forward to quick and favorable consideration by the Legislature, and to working with members to get this money to communities that urgently need it.”
The Shannon grants, administered by the Executive Office of Public Safety, are to be awarded to communities based on risk assessments that took into account the city or town’s violent and property crime rates, the percentage of population between the ages of 15 and 19 and the number of young homicide victims. The grants cover a range of proven crime-fighting activities including but not limited to increased surveillance and patrolling of hot spots, youth outreach and mentoring, after-school programs, tutoring, drug treatment, job training and placement, GED programs and community-wide anti-gang meetings.
“As incidents of violent crime continue to escalate throughout the Commonwealth, it is important that those who are fighting back have the resources to address this problem on all fronts,” said House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi. “The Shannon Grant funding we approved last year has already helped take gangs and guns off our streets and this swift, united action from state government will ensure there are no gaps in these critical programs as we head into the summer.”
“The senseless violence that is threatening many of our neighborhoods is alarming,” said Senate President Therese Murray. “The Shannon grant program not only provides valuable funding for outreach programs and community policing initiatives, it also signals our willingness to partner with cities and towns to battle a rising tide of violence.”
Since its creation in 2005, the Shannon initiative has helped reach out to an additional 7,100 youths through programs that were either started or expanded through the grants. At least 37 new programs were created with the assistance of Shannon grants.
“This is a great day for public safety in Massachusetts. The Governor has made good on his promise to aid cities and towns, and Boston in particular, with more resources to attack violence in our neighborhoods and I thank Governor Patrick for delivering,” Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said. “This legislation will help Boston put 70 new police officers on the street and will continue to fund the Shannon Grant, which allows cities and towns to fund vital community programs.”
The new, multi-agency, multi-disciplinary Anti-Crime Council is part of the Patrick Administration’s comprehensive strategy to combat violent crime in the Commonwealth. The council will focus on the present challenges facing crime victims, social service providers and Massachusetts law enforcement organizations. The council will produce coordinated law enforcement, including strategies for intercepting gun and drug trafficking as well as for early intervention and prevention.
The Administration also has filed anti-crime legislation to limit gun purchases to one per month; to mandate post-release supervision and reentry support for all inmates sentenced to state prisons and county jails; to require felony punishment for using a firearm in a crime of violence; and to add firearm offenses to the list of crimes where, after a dangerousness hearing, a person can be held without bail pending trial