Subcommittee consists of Councilors Bill Martin (chair), Rodney Elliott and Vesna Nuon.
Much of what was said by councilors and members of the public seemed productive (aside from a racist rant blaming all problems on “illegal immigrants” and “slum landlords” by the first member of the public to speak). Here’s what the city manager and the police chief had to say:
City Manager Lynch assures everyone that no one finds the level of violence acceptable or diminishes it because it’s comparable to other communities. Ten shootings is ten too many. Isn’t sure more officers is the answer but he does thank the city council for appropriating more money for police overtime to target police activity in the most effective way. There are ten new recruits on the way all of whom will be assigned to neighborhood routes.
Commends the neighborhood leaders for wanting to be part of the solution and asks them to share their ideas about how that might be done. The city is launching a “see something, say something” campaign. District Attorney Marian Ryan will be in Lowell all day on Thursday.
Police Superintendent Friedl says much of the problem is due to marijuana sales because of the high price of the drug. The nature of gangs have changed. Fifteen years ago it was teenagers, mostly afternoon street crimes. Now gang members are in their late 20s and 30s, some are those teenagers who have now grown up. Gangs now are more measured in their activities, mostly in gaming and in the drug trade. There were more strategies that could be used against the teenagers (DYS, schools, social services). With 30 year olds who choose a criminal lifestyle, there are fewer tools that can be used. To develop and anti crime strategy, you have to understand the root of the crime. When we say the parties to a violent act know each other, we don’t mean to minimize the act. Similarly, if the victim is involved in crime, we can’t really say that up front. But every one of these incidents, the victims are “well known to the police” and few of the victims or witnesses will cooperate with us which makes it tough to solve and prosecute these crimes.
Our strategy must be data driven to use the resources you give us most effectively. Responding to downtown disturbances is more predictable than this kind of violence in the neighborhood. One possibility is to shift our anti-drug strategy because the violence flows more from the drug trade than from gang activity.
Some of the strategies planned:
High visibility vehicular, bicycle and on foot in neighborhoods
Increased motor vehicle stops since most perpetrators of violent crime arrive at crime scene by vehicle
Use grant funds to increase police presence in neighborhoods
Better connect officers to neighborhoods as was the case in the early days of community policing
Employ personnel from multi-agency task forces to go after mid-level criminals
Continue partnerships with social service agencies to pursue intervention strategies
Build a video camera infrastructure around the city to better detect crime and gather evidence
Deploy to trouble spots a “mobile surveillance platform” consisting of a police van with cameras
Continue to use social media to distribute information to citizens and to receive tips and evidence
Councilor Elliott criticizes the city manager for not pushing to put more police officers on the force. City Manager Lynch criticizes Councilor Elliott for repeatedly voting against his proposals for police overtime. Councilor Elliott then says overtime is not more police officers and then says the city manager doesn’t really care because he doesn’t live in Lowell.
Because the subcommittee meeting had already cut into the council meeting time by 15 minutes, it was adjourned with a promise to continue the discussion in the future.