U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan in Boston will increase federal prosecutions of suspects involved in gun and gang violence, the Boston Globe reports. Sullivan says law enforcement has not done well enough reaching potential offenders before they commit crimes. The ”Operation Ceasefire” approach used in the 1990s to fight gang violence by identifying members and offering them help, along with threats of federal prison time far from family and friends if they didn’t cooperate, has recently fallen by the wayside, Sullivan said. ”In some ways, we moved away from that neighborhood engagement and moved into jails and prisons with reentry or the conference rooms of law enforcement agencies to strategize on the law enforcement piece,” Sullivan said. ”I think we’ve missed the community engagement.”
Police and community leaders say that several gangs are partly behind the increase in gun violence that is plaguing Boston and that last week prompted an unusual summit meeting at City Hall. Police Superintendent Paul Joyce is preparing a new plan for combating firearm violence. He said the plan will lean more heavily on city youth workers and will feature other changes that he declined to specify. ”What is being worked on will clearly involve the faith-based community and the street workers,” Joyce said. ”There will be some new components.” Police Commissioner Kathleen O’Toole said Joyce’s plan ‘will focus on groups of kids, particularly in .10 hot spot neighborhoods. Of the 66 homicides this year, 35 of the victims were 25 or younger, and 42 were shot to death. Boston recorded 152 homicides in 1990, during the worst of the gun violence, but that toll dropped to as low as 31 in 1999, before rising since. The 66 this year equals the highest annual total in the last 10 years.