Another city overrun with crime, and the obvious solution is off the table
Over the past few months, we've seen several stories surrounding how some cities have fallen apart due to a rise in criminal activity and a shortage of police officers to handle it. This includes such prosperous cities as Denver, Portland, Chicago, and New York.
Sadly, it's time to add another to the list: Boston.
Over the weekend, the city known for its proud community and sports teams fell victim to kids overrunning the South Bay Shopping Center, engaging in criminal activity and attacks. As a result, 13 kids were arrested, and several businesses closed down to assess the damage.
And why was the city so quickly overrun? Because it didn't have the budget to keep its police officers fully staffed.
In this article, Karry Calderone, who serves as the president of the union that represents Boston Police members, noted that "the crime in the city is out of control. The behavior of the teenagers is out of control."
And before you go saying something like, "Well, I don't see how the shortage of police officers is to blame," Calderone went on to say, "We need hundreds of officers, and we need them tomorrow."
By estimates provided by Calderone, the city is short 500 officers. That may not sound like a big deal, but keep in mind that Boston is a large city. Home to thousands of people. And if you're 500 officers short of keeping the peace, it's going to show.
South Bay Shopping Center was overrun by 100 kids on Sunday night. It got so bad that the Mass. State Police were called in to help, when having more officers staffed would've easily resolved the problem.
But it's not that simple. According to Calderone, there's a residency requirement in place, requiring that an officer live in the city of Boston for ten years in order to be on the job.
"To be frank, police officers are not going to uproot their families and come to the most expensive city in the commonwealth to try and purchase a $900,000 home with failing school systems and crime that is rampant," Calderone added.
But the officials — namely, police commissioner Michael Cox — are doing little when it comes to changing the amendment or increasing the budget needed to bring in more full-time officers. So it comes down to politics — at a time when the city is being torn apart by a crime spree.
South Bay alone has already seen "countless incidents of violence from groups of young people." Without anyone to really stop them, it's hard to see how this will calm down. Cox and Mayor Wu can offer only so much.
Cox gave the lamest excuse, too. "There is a correlation between respect for the job, appreciation for the job." And I understand that the job deserves respect. But to the point that respect to the people is lost? To the point that respect overcomes safety? That doesn't make any sense at all.
Cox insists that the police department has "made every effort" to add to the ranks...but I just don't see it. That amendment gets in the way of bringing in people, especially since the promise of safety just isn't there. Who in the world would move into a violent district? We've already seen hundreds of officers move away because they just couldn't take it anymore.
It's time for Mayor Wu and Commissioner Cox to sit down and finally take care of this amendment — and, for that matter, their police officers. Otherwise, they're going to continue to disservice South Bay, Boston, and all of their provinces, to the point that it becomes another casualty of criminal war. Judging by what I've seen from the cities over the years, they deserve far better.
Let's give the officers the respect they deserve instead of the amendment.
Michael Letts is the founder, president, and CEO of InVest USA, a national grassroots non-profit organization that is helping hundreds of communities provide thousands of bulletproof vests for their police forces through educational, public relations, sponsorship, and fundraising programs. He also has over 30 years of law enforcement experience under his belt, hence his pro-police stance for his brothers and sisters in blue. Those interested in learning more about Letts can visit his official website.
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