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Brockton gun violence leads to more cops hitting streets
The Enterprise - 4/14/2018
BROCKTON - After an eruption of four shooting incidents between Friday and Monday, Mayor Bill Carpenter said the Police Department brought in its narcotics investigators and gang unit detectives for overtime shifts, going on group patrols and looking out for repeat violent offenders.
At the same time, state police beefed up their presence in the city earlier this week, the mayor said.
On Wednesday afternoon, listening to the police scanner inside his office at City Hall, Carpenter said he was grateful for a period of calm after the storm of shootings, including one that claimed the life of a 24-year-old Brockton man.
"I'm glad right now that it's been 48 hours, and we have not had a shots-fired incident in the past 48 hours," Carpenter said. "We know one of the ways to get this thing calmed down is by having a dramatically increased police presence, and making it much more uncomfortable for people who are engaged in illegal activity to engage in it." Carpenter said the response to the recent surge in violence in Brockton meant bringing narcotics investigators and gang unit detectives, who typically work evenings and nights, in for earlier shifts.
"A couple of the incidents over the weekend occurred during the day," Carpenter noted.
"That's why we've brought in both narcotics and gang unit detectives on overtime right now on their off shifts. They're going on proactive patrols.
They know who the players are. They know who the repeat violent offenders are." The four recent gunfire incidents that Brockton police responded to in Brockton included a 71-year-old man grazed in the thigh by a stray bullet while sleeping in his Owens Avenue home early Friday morning, a spurt of several gunshots fired by people in two vehicles on Menlo Street on Saturday afternoon, the shooting death of Kelby Ramos later Saturday night, and two vehicles hit by gunfire on Emerald Street on Monday afternoon.
"It's fair to say they are all very active investigations," Carpenter said. "There are leads in all of them that are being actively pursued by Brockton police detectives, along with state police with the homicide. I think that whether there is a direct connection between any of those four incidents is one aspect of the ongoing investigation.
It's something that's definitely being looked at, but I don't think a determination has been made on that yet." While not commenting specifically on the recent shootings, Carpenter said he believes generally that gun violence and drug activity are intertwined.
"Where we find one, we find the other," he said.
In addition to the temporary increase in narcotics investigators and gang unit detectives, the mayor said he wants to continue increasing the size of the Police Department.
Carpenter said when he took office in 2014, there were 170 police positions, while today there are 200, including the newest hires at the police academy. Carpenter said his belief is that a city as large as Brockton should have 240 to 250 officers.
"I think that's progress in four years for a city that's strapped financially," Carpenter said. "I'm a big believer in boots on the ground. I never thought we had enough.
But I'm also realistic enough to know that we're not going to get there overnight." Carpenter said law enforcement can't be the only response to gun violence in Brockton. Youth education and efforts to reduce prison recidivism are also important, the mayor said.
"We've got to do a better job on that," said Carpenter, noting that the mayor's office recently sponsored a "CORI Friendly Job Fair" in Brockton. "The problem is I hear case after case after case of people who can't get a job or can't get a place to live. So I think that's a piece of the puzzle. I've talked a lot recently about really targeting the middle school ages for more anti-drug, anti-gang and anti-violence curriculum.
We're trying to find money to increase the number of adjustment counselors we have to improve the decision-making skills of younger people."