Boston’s homicide total through the first 10 weeks of 2009 is less than half what it was a year ago, says the Boston Globe. Police officials and community leaders attribute the drop to cease-fires between feuding groups, aggressive monitoring of criminals on probation, and federal prosecutions of gang members caught with guns or drugs. A fatal shooting Wednesday was the city’s sixth homicide of the year, compared with 13 at the same point in 2008. A quiet start to the year does not always translate into a low homicide number by year’s end. In 2005, there had been only 7 killings through March 11, but by the end of the year, 75 people were killed on city streets, the highest number of homicides in Boston in 10 years.
Boston police are not taking the drop in homicides for granted. “We’re on eggshells,” said one official. “You don’t even want to mention it, because you don’t want to jinx it.” Fueling this nervousness are other statistics that hint at an undercurrent of tension on the streets. Nonfatal shootings are up slightly. There were 33 through March 8, compared with 23 during the same period last year. Firearms arrests are up 21 percent for the same time period, with 131 gun arrests so far this year. Officials and community leaders remain encouraged by this year’s low homicide total to date, in large part because the department has been working more and more with religious leaders on cease-fires.