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Pol: Add street workers to lower city crime rate

For some criminologists, the proposal to hire 300 street and youth workers to help cut the homicide rate is optimistic, but likely will not work.

For some criminologists, the proposal to hire 300 street and youth workers to help cut the homicide rate is optimistic, but likely will not work.

“I don’t know that this is necessarily a wise expenditure,” said Tom Nolan, a Boston University professor of criminal justice. “I’m not sure we’ve seen any kind of empirical evidence that this is an effective strategy to combat violence.”

But for City Councilor Charles Yancey, who has called for a hearing on the issue that will be held today, the idea would lead to a reduction in violence and the chance for disengaged youth to find their way.

Councilors have called for an increase to the nearly 60 street and youth workers for years without getting a result. Yancey said he believes this year is the closest the council has come to getting it done.

The workers try to form connections with Boston’s youth and often visit neighborhoods where violence is common or has recently occurred. Their labeled jackets were a common sight on Woolson Street for the days following one of Boston’s worst mass murders in years.

Nolan said that hiring hundreds more police officers may not make a dent in the homicide rate. He said that while Boston’s homicide rate is significantly up over last year, it’s closer to the final counts in other recent years.

“There isn’t any quick fix to the problems [leading to violence],” he said.

Pays for itself?

Yancey said money typically put toward overspending of the police department budget could fund the proposal.

 
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