Last week in my neighborhood, another young man was shot in a drive-by shooting. He was lucky to survive. Too many don’t.
Last month, I celebrated with my Hendry Street neighbors who have worked so very hard with the police and the mayor to reclaim their street from drugs and violence. But not every street is that lucky.
Just a few days before that same celebration, I noticed the all-too-familiar yellow police tape yards from my house. It marked where two people were shot; one later died.
Whether we label gun violence in my neighborhood and other neighborhoods a “state of emergency,” or call it something else, I can tell you that those of us who live in communities long destabilized by violence know that something is not working and hasn’t been working to stop the violence for a long time. We need a new plan.
Those of you who know me know that I’m a leader who is a consensus builder; I am a problem solver who works to bring others together to find solutions collectively.
Some years ago, when businesses threatened to leave the Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood because of a rash of violence, I worked with others in our community to persuade them to stay, and many did.
There is no way that we can create the kind of healthy communities we want for our families, keep our businesses viable, create jobs, and build better schools if we don’t tackle, head on, the issue of public safety in our neighborhoods. I believe that people and families in every neighborhood of our city deserve to feel safe and secure. Public safety in every neighborhood must be a top priority.
I do not have all the answers but I believe that having all the stakeholders at the table is a good first step, including our police and residents, our youth, our community-based organizations, our elected and appointed officials, our teachers, our anti-crime advocates, our clergy and faith-based organizations, and members of our business community.
I believe we can start the design of our new plan by implementing some of the techniques and lessons learned from the Marathon bombings in a number of our neighborhoods.
I support the idea of more surveillance coverage in troubled and high traffic spots. In several cases, they have already solved a number of high-profile crimes. There is no need for the residents of a neighborhood to be held hostage by a few. We need to be more proactive in our ability to identify criminals and swiftly get them off our streets. With the use of newer technologies, we can do that.
We need to do more to strengthen the relationship between police and community, an effort that can be aided by increasing diversity. We also need to build on the successful partnerships that have been forged between the police and the community.
And we need to do more to help our young people avoid trouble and find opportunity.
In my work with YouthBuild USA, a national organization that focuses on the mentoring of our children and young adults, I’ve learned much about the value of how opportunity can transform a life and in many instances help to save a life.
We can accomplish the very tough job of improving public safety in all of our neighborhoods if we are all willing to come to the table and work together to solve the problem. It is what the people of our city deserve from their leaders today.
Charlotte Golar Richie is a longtime Dorchester resident who is currently running for Mayor of Boston.