In his inaugural address at Boston College, Mayor Martin J. Walsh, WCAS ’09, highlighted the importance of addressing violence in Boston’s rougher neighborhoods. While last year’s homicide rate was low by the city’s standards-just 40 murders accounted for in 2013-“40 homicides still represents 40 grieving mothers too many,” according to Walsh.
Walsh is now following through on his promise to address city violence with the creation of the Mayor’s Safety Initiative. Last Friday, Walsh announced that the initiative-crafted with the intention of curbing violence in Boston-will be led by Leon Graves and Daniel Mulhern.
The initiative will work with the Boston Police Department, the Boston Public Health Commission, the Boston Public Schools, and the Boston Centers for Youth and Family, among others, to foster cross-departmental strategies to further tackle the violence on Boston’s streets. According to the mayor’s office, the mandate of the project is to “examine and recommend solutions for the root causes of violence, such as access to illegal guns, trauma among young people, and quality of life issues such as economic development, access to education, and pathways to careers.” The initiative was designed in order to create new strategies to address violence and weed out existing strategies that are deemed no longer effective.
“Boston is a city that is rich in assets, and we need to build on those assets to build a strong, safe future for our kids,” Walsh said in a press release. “I keep saying this: We cannot arrest our way out of this problem. We need to take a comprehensive approach to neighborhood safety, and this is an important first step.”
According to The Boston Globe, Walsh did not give a timetable for the initiative’s initial findings.
Graves and Mulhearn have worked together in the past 15 years. Graves, who formerly worked for the late Representative Kevin Fitzgerald, has 20-plus years of experience addressing neighborhood violence, particularly with at-risk youth, and taking guns off of Boston streets. In his most recent role as a Dorchester District Court probation officer, Graves was assigned to the Youthful Offender Unit in collaboration with the District Attorney’s Office.
Mulhearn most recently served as assistant district attorney for Suffolk County. As chief of the office’s Gang Unit and Safe Neighborhood Initiative, Mulhearn focused on gang-related crime, homicide, firearms-related cases, and drug offenses. He has served as a prosecutor in Boston for more than 10 years, specializing in gang-related offenses, gun crime, and drug trafficking cases. Both men appointed to lead the new initiative are Boston natives.
The execution of this new plan comes after the Walsh’s administration came under fire last week for his proposed gun buyback program. Shortly after Walsh and Police Chief Commissioner William Evans proposed the reimplementation of a gun buyback program, which has not been done in Boston since 2006, criminologists and advocates alike criticized buyback plans as highly ineffective. The Mayor’s Safety Initiative, therefore, is seen as a test for the mayor’s office as Walsh persists in fighting violence in Boston.