Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gov. Patrick and the Legislature need to do more to address violent crime

When Domino's pizza delivery man Richel Nova was brutally murdered in September, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley was quoted in the Boston Globe summing up the crime this way:

"This was one of those crimes that shocked the city in a year, unfortunately, of some pretty shocking crimes."

A new study being released today confirms Conley's statement. According to the Massachusetts Health Council, Massachusetts officially has a higher rate of violent crime than New York. In fact, Massachusetts leads the entire Northeast when it comes to violent crimes.

Governor Patrick, what are you going to do about this?

Whenever there is a violent crime, we have become accustomed to seeing Boston Mayor Tom Menino and Police Commissioner Ed Davis at a press conference expressing outrage and vowing to do more to combat crime. Mayor Menino, who had a personal connection to Richel Nova, was criticized for saying he would "slowly torture" the people who committed that crime.

But where have Governor Patrick, Senate President Murray and House Speaker DeLeo been? Why have they not been asked to do more to address violent crime statewide? Why does the press never take them to task for this issue?

Even the Boston Globe seems to give state government a free pass. In a recent Globe editorial about "grisly" murders in Mattapan, the paper credited government for building an expensive state-of-the-art library and community health center in the neighborhood where the crime took place. For the violence, they blamed the "depraved soldiers of the illegal drug trade," and they said the responsibility for dealing with crime lies with law enforcement and neighborhood residents.

We acknowledge the difficulty of solving violent crime. But, we also think leadership starts at the top, and political leadership on the issue of violent crime has been sorely lacking once you step outside City Hall. We hope that Governor Patrick's second term will give him and colleagues in the Legislature opportunity to do more than issue press releases about ways to deal with violent crime in our streets. Perhaps this morning's latest headline, this time about a murder victim in Governor Patrick's usually-tranquil home town of Milton, will give leaders renewed reason to focus attention on this issue.

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