They’re some of the most violent crimes being committed, but in Boston, non-fatal shootings don’t get the type of attention from detectives that you might think they do, and that’s actually helping to drive the cycle of violence in the city. That’s the conclusion of a report commissioned by the Boston Police Department just last year, but according to WGBH in Boston, the police department has yet to make solving those crimes a higher priority on par with clearing homicides.
The authors, at Northeastern and Duke universities, concluded that Boston could, by putting additional resources into non-fatal shooting investigations, “hold violent gun offenders accountable, deliver justice to victims, and prevent future gun attacks.”
Yet, the department has not done so. Nor are there any plans to follow those findings, confirms Sgt. Det. John Boyle, a department spokesperson. “In the big picture, it’s tough to devote people strictly to unsolved shootings,” he says.
We are at a moment when Boston’s officials are, once again, considering much-needed reforms to its police department. Activists press for shifting funds out of the department and into other community services. A task force is considering recommendations for oversight and training. The ACLU demands disclosure of so-called “Brady officers” whose untrustworthiness must be disclosed before they testify at trial.
Yet, the city continues to fail a basic element of the relationship between the police and the community: reducing the most dangerous activity, and removing the most dangerous offenders.
I’m sure that it’s tough to devote more detectives to solving unsolved shootings, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. Given what we know about the nature of shootings in any given community; that they are driven by a small number of individuals who are more likely to both shoot and be shot. These guys are human super-spreader events, only they’re spreading violence and not the Wuhan Flu. They’re the nexus of ripples of violence that spread across neighborhoods and throughout cities. Why wouldn’t you want to prioritize finding and stopping them? Why wait until they kill someone?