Major crimes in Boston decreased in almost all categories compared to the same point in 2012, according to data released by the Boston Police Department Tuesday.
Different districts in the city had different levels of change, but aggregate totals for major crimes — homicide, aggravated assault and completed or attempted rape, robbery, burglary, larceny and vehicle theft — reported by Monday decreased by 7 percent relative to cumulative 2012 data through the same date.
“In Boston, we’ve done a couple things [to bring crime rates down],” said Jack McDevitt, director of the Institute on Race and Justice at Northeastern University. “A lot more police are on the street and visible … The other thing that has helped crime go down in Boston is something called smart policing, and what it does is it really looks at certain groups … that cause a lot of violence, and it looks at it [trends] within certain neighborhoods and says, ‘Let’s focus on these folks.’”
Each of the city’s five police districts had lower comparative numbers for 2013. The biggest overall drop was 11 percent in District E, which includes West Roxbury, Roslindale, Jamaica Plain and Hyde Park, according to the data. The lowest change was a 2 percent drop in District D, which includes Allston, Brighton, Back Bay, Fenway and the South End.
The biggest single-category increase was also in District E, where homicide cases doubled from three to six cases, according to the data.
Shootings and firearm-related arrests for the entire city increased as well, according to separate BPD numbers releasedTuesday, with the most recent being a fatal shooting in Roxbury on Friday night.
Monalisa Smith, president of Mothers for Justice and Equality, a Boston-based anti-violence group, said the police have done well at preventing most crimes, but shootings continue to rise because the police do not have a close enough personal relationship with the neighborhoods they serve.
“The police just don’t have the trust in the community,” she said. “People are still not feeling comfortable with coming to them and speaking up about the crime that they’re seeing. We really have to find a way to get community members engaged and give them a feeling they can make a change. Then, there will be a feeling of unity, and only then can we really begin to have a plan to treat violence, which is just a symptom of a lot of other [social] factors.”
McDevitt said rates will never drop consistently if individual citizens do not take preventative action.
“Fear of crime is unrelated to the actual risk of crime,” he said. “The most fearful group of being a victim of crime is the elderly and they are the least likely to be victimized. At the same time, the least fearful group are males between the ages of 18 and 30, and they are the most likely to be victimized, so the actual victimization pattern is not correlated with fear.”
Several residents said even if there are aspects of law enforcement the police could improve, they have been effective in keeping the city safe.
“I’ve lived in a lot of different neighborhoods around Boston and haven’t really had any issues with safety, which is good,” said Christina Tripsas, 26, resident of Boston. “They’re [police] doing an okay job. There’s room for improvement … but again, I’ve never felt like I had to worry about safety.”
Shamara Debow, 25, resident of Boston, said the police already do as much as they can.
“I’ve lived here my entire life, and after being around here for that long, there’s never been an issue,” she said. “Besides weird moments here and there, this place has always been safe.”
Deepu Thomas, 30, resident of Boston, said there is always room for police improvement, but safety is already nearly a guarantee in Boston.
“I have never been a victim of a crime or actually known someone who has,” he said. “The fact that I haven’t really had to pay attention to them [the police] ever says a lot about how they’re doing.”