Boston's Youth Violence Strike Force
BPD Lieutenant Kelley McCormick says that many young offenders' extensive knowledge of the criminal justice system helps them find loopholes to avoid doing hard time.
Boston police have a special unit that's hitting the streets to keep violent offenders off the streets and at-risk youth out of trouble.
The Youth Violence Strike Force is comprised of 50 full-time BPD officers and 15 other members of law enforcement from the Massachusetts State Police all the way to ATF. To maximize their efforts, the force splits into two different shifts: the day shift for arrests and warrants and the night shift for monitoring gang activity.
In January, AMW hit the streets with this special task force, as they hunted down some of the most violent offenders between the ages of 7 and 25 years old in the city. Police there say violent crimes are becoming more heinous and the offenders are getting younger.
"A lot of these kids are getting into conflicts with other kids and the means of settling an argument is a knife or a gun," BPD Lieutenant Kelley McCormick told AMW producers. "It can be a very small [event] that can cause a major wave of violence and tragedy for all of these families."
"There's not a street fight anymore for the most part. A lot of it goes right to handguns and it can be over very small issues," says Lieutenant McCormick.
Three Approaches To Crime
The Youth Violence Strike Force is a special unit of the Boston Police Department aimed at preventing youth violence.
The Strike Force has a three-pronged mission: prevention, intervention and apprehension, which they say is about more than just locking up young offenders.
Yet this multi-step approach to crime has not stopped the Strike Force from making plenty of arrests. In the past year the unit arrested nearly 6,000 youth offenders in the Boston area.
But Officers on the special force know that just making arrests is not the way to improve violence-ridden communities. That's why the triple-armed approach is so important.
With community learning forums and activities like sports leagues and after-school activities to engage at-risk youth, the task force helps prevent crime. Members of the force also visit youths' homes to ensure that they're
More Than Just Making Arrests
Deputy Superintendent Paul Fitzgerald says the task force's three-pronged approach to youth violence is what makes it so effective.
Besides getting violent offenders off the streets, the Strike Force also makes sure kids are involved in sports, enrichment programs and job training.
BPD Deputy Superintendent Paul Fitzgerald says the task force has helped control violent crime by youthful offenders successfully through bonds fostered with neighborhood kids.
"A lot of these kids feel like there's no hope, so if we can design after-school programs and build relationships between the police department and these kids, we find that's the better long-term solution to violent crime than just going out and locking kids up," Fitzgerald says.