Boston Mayor Thomas Menino plans to double the size of this spring’s police class to 70, making it the largest class in seven years, the Boston Globe reports. With plans to add two more groups next year, the Boston Police Department will gradually return to staffing levels of the 1990s. Menino has come under fire from neighborhood leaders and City Council President Michael Flaherty, who have said the mayor should hire hundreds of police to restore the force to late-1990s levels and to help quell the recent rise in crime. The department has already overspent its entire $21.5 million overtime budget for fiscal year 2006, which ends June 30.
The city hopes that by next January there will be 2,100 uniformed personnel in the department. That is still far fewer than the 2,245 police who were in uniform in 1999. Adding police won’t necessarily solve the city’s crime woes, Menino said: ”I don’t know what reduces crime. Nobody has a real answer. Community policing helps. Summer jobs work. Taking handguns off the street reduces crime. It’s not only having police officers on the street, but it’s helpful. People feel safe with police on the streets.”