The Sunday Enterprise, June 7, 2015
We applaud District Attorney Tim Cruz for responding swiftly and comprehensively to a recent explosion of violent crime in the city of Brockton.
On Thursday, Cruz announced he restarted "Operation Safe Streets," a coalition of federal, state, regional and local law enforcement agencies that will work collaboratively to find solutions to the wave of free-for-all shootings and other violent crimes plaguing Brockton's neighborhoods. It is exactly what we asked Mayor Bill Carpenter to do in our May 29 editorial, "Brockton mayor, police need new crime fighting strategy."
Since the start of 2015, there have bee multiple shootings, brazen car chases involving instances of rounds of gunfire and in a few terrifying instances, stray bullets have been shot into innocent families' homes, one lodging in the ceiling above the bed in which a 5-year-old girl was sleeping.
In a press release, Cruz said the task force, which will meet monthly, is comprised of "representatives from the State Police assigned to the District Attorney's Office, State Police Gang Unit, State Police Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section, State Police Community Action Team, Brockton Police, the U.S. Attorney's Office, Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives."
The task force was once funded by a U.S. Department of Justice grant, but that program ended in 2009 and with it, community policing grants. Nonetheless, Cruz and others have pledged to revive it on their own. Considering how successful past iterations of "Operation Safe Streets" have been in Brockton, we're hopeful this revived coalition will be as well.
The degree of crime Brockton is experiencing isn't contained within its borders and law enforcement suspects it isn't random. It affects Abington, East and West Bridgewater, Whitman and many other communities on the South Shore that are drowning in drugs.
We have no doubt Carpenter will work with the task force. To do so, we urge him to increase the number of Brockton Police positions so that the department staff is at least commensurate with similarly sized cities, such as New Bedford and Lowell. Cruz has stepped up in an impressive way to protect the people of Brockton and we are confident Carpenter will seek to do the same.
We call on U.S. Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, and U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch to seek federal funds to support this collaboration. In the meantime, Gov. Charlie Baker must scour his budget to find state resources to aid in the effort too.
The people of Brockton have had too many wayward bullets rocket through their homes and into their lives.
Too many have been injured and killed this year. When gangs feel empowered to engage in the kind of car chases and shootouts one might expect to see a Hollywood production- only with real bullets and real funerals- it's time for everyone to get on board.