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For Boston police, 2015 is ending with some welcome news. Major crimes — including homicides — are down. As of Dec. 28, police say there were 37 murders in Boston this year, compared to 53 the year before.
'We Can't Tolerate This'
"Ten shots were fired. Thank God nobody was hit," said Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans back in August, outside police headquarters in Roxbury.
He spoke following a particularly violent week — and the shooting he's referring to actually occurred at a family gathering for a victim of gun violence.
"It's very troubling to us when someone can shoot on a beautiful day with the playground and a pool full of young children enjoying the day," he continued. "We can't tolerate this as a city."
Including homicides, overall major crime is down 9 percent compared to last year, according to police data released earlier this month. Individual shooting incidents are about even, while the actual number of shooting victims is slightly higher. Despite the drop in overall crime, Evans worries, as he explained recently while walking through the Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood.
"I wake up every day hoping nobody gets shot," Evans said.
Part of the city's effort this year has been getting guns off the street. But Evans says that can only go so far without uniform gun control across the country.
"We try hard to get the guns off the street but it's a never-ending battle. As quick as we take them off the streets, there's more to replace them," he said.
The Boston Police Department's focus this year has been on community policing, which has won Evans accolades from the White House. Evans says it's about building trust by forging authentic relationships with residents.
"We participate in more community events and that really makes a difference. It builds trust. Over the summer we have cookouts, ice cream trucks, youth-police dialogues," Evans said. "I think Boston has something special here where the community really supports our efforts and we have a lot of trust and respect that's not going on across this country right now."
"The neighborhood has come together, the civic association, the police, the mayor," said Rev. Jack Ahern is from St. Peter's Church in Dorchester.
He says its that cooperation that is helping drive down violence in Boston.
"And it's a more livable section of the city and I think people taking ownership for their neighborhood," he said.
Ahern's colleague at St. Peter's Rev. Richard "Doc" Conway, agrees.
"This year's been — compared to other years — a good year," he said.
Conway gave the homily for one of the victims of this year's gun violence — 16-year-old Jonathan Dos Santos. He says any year with such young victims of gun violence is a bad year, but he's hopeful.
"I think the more we get people talking to each other — saying 'Hi' on the streets — the better off we're going to be," Conway said.
Commissioner Evans has a wish too — one that he recognizes might be unrealistic — that no child get killed in the city in 2016.
Correction: An earlier version of this post misidentified a quote from Rev. Richard Conway. The post has been corrected. We regret the error.
This article was originally published on December 29, 2015.
This segment aired on December 29, 2015.
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