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Boston Police report decrease in crime for December 2013

The Boston Police Department released information Monday showing crime rates decreasing in Boston by 6 percent between Jan. 1 and Dec. 9, compared to the same period in 2012, a trend which many residents said they could see in their neighborhoods.

Amy Farrell, assistant professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northeastern University, said she studies crime patterns, both locally and nationally, and Boston has one of the best responses to crime.

“They [decreases in crime rates] are certainly important because they represent success, particularly in the strategies that are being used in Boston to deal with crime,” she said. “Boston has a very proactive, community-based response to crime, particularly to violence. And the fact that they [crime rates] are going down across the board means that this isn’t just a saturation of one program in one area, but rather it represents broad-based influences.”

By Dec. 2012, Boston saw 21,756 crimes, while only 20,451 crimes were reported in 2013 at the same time, a decrease of 1,305 reported crimes, according to the statistics.

The report released by the BPD broke crime into seven categories including homicide, rape and attempted, robbery and attempted, aggravated assault, burglary and attempted, larceny and attempted and vehicle theft and attempted. Numbers decreased in 2013 city totals in every category, except vehicle theft and attempted, according to the statistics.

District 14, the district that encompasses Boston University, saw an increase in burglary and vehicle theft in 2013, but overall 2013 crime rates dropped 7 percent, from 1,475 crimes in 2012 to 1,376 crimes in 2013.

Monalisa Smith, president and chief executive officer of Mothers for Justice and Equality, an organization founded in 2010 that works closely with community leaders to find solutions for ending violence, said a decrease in crime would encourage more people to move to Boston.

“From an economic development perspective, if we have less crime, more people will want to come into our city,” she said. “More young people will want to go to college in our city. We will have a feeling of safety in our community. And from a sense of community, it helps to build a unity among us when there’s less violence and trauma around.”

Smith said the decrease in violence in the city is a slow process, but she hopes with city collaboration, Boston will continue to grow into a safer city.

“It requires continued, coordinated, strategic effort in collaboration,” she said. “Sharing information, working together with state and local government, community people, more empowering lofcal citizens to take active roles in their communities and in their homes. But primarily, this is going to take us working together on helping young people to be more productive in their lives.”

While the crime rates in most areas have not significantly increased, several residents said they noticed the safety improvements in the past year.

Amil Parrilla, 33, of Dorchester, said she has seen a noticeable decrease in crime, but still feels the police could be doing more to protect children.

“I’ve been in Dorchester [for] about a year,” she said. “I do see a lot of police around the neighborhood, but they should be putting more police in the schools. I feel pretty confident about the safety, but I still would never let me daughter walk around by herself.”

Katrina Baskin, 52, of Dorchester, said she hopes her neighborhood will get even safer.

“I always feel safe, even when there’s crime around me,” she said. “I know they’re doing the best they can. My only concern is making sure that my daughters can come home safely and not be in fear of coming or going to their own house.”

Sarah Carroll, 42, of the South End, said she has not seen a decrease in crime in her neighborhood, but she has seen higher police visibility.

“If they’re visible, it deters criminals,” she said. “If they’re even doing road work shifts, they say that helps deter criminals because they don’t expect the police to be there and they’re there. Any kind of heavy presence helps to deter. You just have to be aware of your surroundings. People will feel safer and want to live here if the crime is down.”

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