Recent Gun Violence In Springfield Leaves Two Dead
After a relatively peaceful summer, the city of Springfield, Massachusetts has been jolted by a rash of shootings.
At least a dozen separate shootings have left two people dead and 10 wounded. The flare-up of violence began on the last day of August and continued through this past Saturday.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said he was “very disheartened” by the rash of shootings.
"We had been moving in the right direction,( crime) statistics will show that," said Sarno.
Sarno, who consults regularly with Springfield Police Commissioner John Barbieri, said police would step up patrols in the areas where the shootings occurred. He said police blame the violence on gang activity and disputes over drugs.
" I think you will find, when arrests are made, that many of these are repeat violent offenders, let go on bail or freed from the jail with electronic monitoring," said Sarno.
Sarno, for the last two years, has lobbied for legislation that would let district attorneys appeal when they believe bail has been set too low for a criminal suspect with a history of violence.
The two homicides, the first in Springfield since mid-June, remain unsolved. A 30-year-old man was shot to death in front of a strip club on Sept. 2nd. A 20-year-old man died Sept. 9th, three days after he was shot in the head as he stood outside his car on a block of Worthington Street, where two earlier shootings had occurred.
Police have struggled to make arrests in the shootings because of a scarcity of witnesses, and uncooperative victims.
" I am very proud of the Springfield Police Department," said Sarno. "But, police can not do everything."
Before the recent violence flared, Springfield officials had trumpeted statistics showing crime was on the decline. According to Barbieri, overall crime is down 7 percent this year on the heels of an 11 percent drop last year. Gun-related crimes dropped 25 percent in 2015 and were down an additional 8 percent this year.
" Crime is a complicated issue. We have worked tirelessly with the community and our state and federal partners to produce unprecedented drops ( in crime)," said Barbieri.
Since becoming Springfield’s police commissioner in 2014, Barbieri has reorganized the police department in an effort to become more proactive in combating crime. He has increased the number of officers in uniform on patrol by 26 percent. A community policing initiative has expanded to more neighborhoods. Millions of dollars has been spent on technology to develop real time crime data analysis.
Springfield, for several years, has seen periodic flare-ups of gun violence. It typically subsides after police increase patrols in the areas where the shootings have occurred.