As rates of violent crime fall in Boston and some other larger Massachusetts cities, smaller places have seen aggravated assaults and robberies increase, according to figures compiled by police chiefs in 25 of the state’s largest law enforcement agencies, the Boston Globe reports. While reasons for the fluctuations are not clear, some police chiefs and analysts suggest that criminals and gang members are migrating to smaller, quieter municipalities on the outskirts as bigger cities effectively clamp down on violent felons. Others suggest that heroin use is fueling more robberies by addicts trying to feed their habit.
Overall, the number of violent crimes for all 25 localities fell by 5 percent, showing a promising trend for a state that has struggled with spikes in homicides and shootings since 1999. The number of shootings and fatal shootings had nearly doubled, from 1,302 in 1999 to 2,250 in 2005. “Even though there are some reductions and some increases, overall we’re seeing a level of violence  that is beyond what local communities can address,” said Gary Gemme, police chief in Worcester, one of the few cities with a population over 50,000 that saw a violent crime increase. “There are a lot of challenges that are taking place in urban areas, and we need state resources.” Kevin Burke, state secretary of public safety, said, “We have limited amounts of funds, and what funds we have we should spend smartly. We can’t pour millions more into law enforcement.”