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Dozens more officers to walk beats

Police officers stood yesterday at a press conference, where it was announced that 54 will be walking beats around the city. Police officers stood yesterday at a press conference, where it was announced that 54 will be walking beats around the city. (JOHN BOHN/GLOBE STAFF)

Less than six months after 18 police officers began walking beats around some of the city's most crime-plagued neighborhoods, Commissioner Edward F. Davis said yesterday that dozens more will be joining them.

Starting this week, 54 officers will be sent around the city, spending their shifts patrolling areas in East Boston, Codman Square in Dorchester, Mattapan, the South End, the Theater District, and Boston Common.

They will patrol in nine teams of six officers, as part of Davis's effort to promote community policing.

"Walking beats get patrol officers out of the cruisers and back into the neighborhoods," he said yesterday, standing with Mayor Thomas M. Menino in front of dozens of uniformed police officers gathered at Talbot Avenue and Washington Street in Codman Square.

The expansion, Menino said, is a result of the success of the initiative, which began in March with three teams of six officers patrolling Grove Hall in Roxbury, Bowdoin Street and Geneva Avenue in Dorchester, and Downtown Crossing.

Menino cited recent police statistics that showed shootings were down in some of these areas.

"The numbers show these foot patrols are already making a big difference," he said.

Cynthia Loesch, who is president of the Codman Square Neighborhood Council and stood alongside Davis yesterday, said she is hopeful that police officers walking beats will interact with residents to prevent violence and gain the trust of the community.

"Welcome," she told the officers, who were standing ramrod straight. "Welcome to Codman Square. Know that we want to work with you. We need you to make our neighborhoods safe."

Maria Cramer can be reached at mcramer@globe.com.

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