Mayor’s Weekly Column

From the Desk of Thomas M. MeninoMeninoFacePic

There has been a lot of focus over the last several months on the troubling increase in gang-related youth violence in our neighborhoods. While gang violence is certainly not a new issue, the nature of gang activity among youth has evolved and we have had to adapt our strategy accordingly. In collaboration with state and federal government agencies and community partners, the City of Boston has launched a targeted, community-based strategy to more effectively suppress violence in Boston’s neighborhoods and support the families and residents in those communities. Reducing violence is a job that no single agency can do alone, but it’s one we all can do if we act together.

The new partnership, called PACT (Partnership Advancing Communities Together), unites law enforcement and social service agencies – including Governor Deval Patrick, District Attorney Dan Conley, the office of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, as well as health and human services officials – to share resources, information and accountability. The PACT focuses its efforts on 200-300 individuals that have been identified as playing a significant role in the ongoing violence in known problematic areas. The PACT partners will work together to share resources and provide improved access to information, compiling a database of complete records, facilitated and centralized by the BPD and circulated among law enforcement, social service and community partners.

While our government agencies are important components of the PACT system, its success also depends on the support from our local communities. Violence is a crime issue, but it is also a health and human services issue. Our faith-based and community-based partners will play an important role in prevention and intervention by increasing visibility on the streets, particularly in geographic areas identified as problematic. Clergy and community partners have been given 15 coordinated reporting areas of the city, ranging from Mattapan to the South End, to work closely with neighbors in offering support and creating a sense of peace. Through a coordinated effort between government and social services, we aim to curb the trend of our younger generations getting involved with gangs and foster a safe neighborhood environment for Boston families, now and well into the future.

It is only through coordinated, comprehensive strategies like the PACT and with shared commitment and accountability that allow us to make a significant impact on youth and gang violence. Government cannot do it alone and we need the cooperation and support of our residents and communities as well. I urge anyone that sees and is impacted by youth and gang violence to work with law enforcement and community agencies to report their concerns and support their neighbors. I am confident that with a joined effort we can eliminate the fear and violence that haunts many of our neighborhoods, making Boston a better place for residents to live, work, go to school and raise a family.