Two high-profile Boston police operations that sent officers sweeping through neighborhoods to stem surging gun violence netted mostly arrests on minor charges, a Boston Globe analysis found. From October 2005 until June 2006, about 1,250 people were taken into custody, but only about one-third on felony charges, including only 55 on gun charges. At least two-thirds of those arrested faced relatively minor misdemeanor charges including trespassing and driving without a license. Police touted Operation Home Safe and Operation Red Zone as intensive crackdowns to rid streets of violent criminals, including people with outstanding warrants for gun possession and assault with a dangerous weapon, and to make neighborhoods safe for residents.
In about 20 sweeps, the streets were filled with police officers on horses, bicycles, and motorcycles; “America’s Most Wanted” filmed a segment on the initiative. The operations cut across a broad swath of the city’s poorest, most violent, and predominantly minority neighborhoods. The operations cost tens of thousands of dollars in overtime. The sweeps also upset some community leaders and residents, damaging the department’s already fragile ties with them. “It’s never good for relations when you arrest the wrong people,” said Christopher Sumner of the Boston TenPoint Coalition. In June, as a result of the weak results, the department shifted from broad sweeps and launched a new strategy targeting the most dangerous individual criminals. serious crime and shootings have decreased dramatically, officials said.