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Local law enforcement, elected officials believe violence and drugs in South Boston have been reduced

Posted by Patrick Rosso  September 13, 2012 10:00 AM

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(Patrick D. Rosso/

A targeted push by local law enforcement and city officials has made a dent in South Boston's drug trade thought to be fueling a rise in neighborhood violence this year, authorities say.

Among the high-profile crimes:the murder of Barbara Coyne inside her East Seventh St. in April, allegedly by an addict.

Now, with overall crime in the city down, according to the Boston Police Department, many are saying the tides are changing.

“We’ve still have some issues, but I’m pleased,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino, recently told “Community policing is working in South Boston, but we need to keep at it.”

Crime is down 10 percent overall in the neighborhood compared to last year. But the numbers are still high in the robbery, assault and rape categories, plus the neighborhood has had twice as many murders this year as it did in 2011.

In addition to Coyne's killing, other crimes have alarmed neighborhood residents.

On May 27, Richard Hallahan, 70, and Diane Bourglas, 54, were found murdered in a Linsky Court apartment and on June 15 Shannon McCormick, 38, was stabbed to death on East 9th St..

“We’re very comfortable with the impact we’ve had,” said Deputy Superintendent Kelly Nee, of the Boston Police Department. “There is still work to be done but we’re heading in the right direction.”

Zero tolerance policies and sweeps by BPD have led to close to 200 arrests of individuals on drug charges and warrants, the department sees it as a step in the right direction.

“From the polices’ perspective, part of our tactic is to make arrests and have zero tolerance,” said Nee. “Among the drug addicted population, South Boston is now not an attractive place to purchase drugs and that’s a reputation we want to maintain.”

Education and outreach, along with enforcement, have been tactics used to curb abuse in the neighborhood.

“We have done more outreach with social services and we’re committed to continuing this operation,” said Nee. “With everyone working together we can have a bigger impact. Not everything has to be an arrest. You build a trusting relationship by being responsive.”

State Senator Jack Hart, who was at the grisly scene of Coyne's slaying and who lives in South Boston, also thinks the right steps are being taken.

“The police force has done an extraordinary job in South Boston and around the city,” Hart said.

Police are still continuing efforts in the neighborhood of more than 33,000. The force has kept a day-time drug unit in place and having officers patrolling East and West Broadway, South Hampton Street and Andrew Square on bicycles, hoping to stem any problems surrounding the selling and buying of prescription pills and other drugs.

“We’re continuing the partnerships,” said Nee. “The people in the community are seeing a difference and the officers out there are seeing a difference.”

Residents aware of illegal drug activity are encouraged to contact the District C-6 Community Service Office at (617) 343- 4747. Individuals who wish to provide anonymous information are encouraged to contact the CrimeStoppers Tip Line at 1(800) 494-TIPS or text the word ’TIP’ to CRIME (27463).

Email Patrick D. Rosso, Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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