Boston City Councilor Warns Against 'Police State'
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Boston City Councilor Warns Against 'Police State'

The Boston Channel | August 9 2004

BOSTON -- A city councilor on Sunday warned against turning the Boston into a "police state", even as law enforcement officials touted the success of a new program that has beefed up police presence on the streets in response to a recent spate of violence.

Fourteen people were arrested Saturday night and Sunday morning as part of Operation Neighborhood Shield, which relies on the help of state police, FBI and other federal agencies for increased patrols across the city. Two guns and 500 rounds of ammunition were also confiscated, police said.

The program has resulted in 41 arrests since Friday night.

Two city councilors and some religious leaders, meanwhile, said an increased police presence is not the only solution. They called on residents to find new ways to end violence, which has included the brazen daylight shooting death of a youth basketball coach during a game and the wounding of an 11-year-old boy trying out for a Pop Warner football team.

"We're not looking for an imposition of a police state but for police to work cooperatively with neighbors," said City Councilor Charles Yancey. "Whatever strategy we come up with, it has to be a collective strategy based upon imperatives and directions from the community.

Funding cuts for youth programs have left the city's young with little to do, said Councilor Chuck Turner.

"When you cut back the resources needed for youth services and summer jobs and programs to productively employ the energy of our youth then the reality is that you are warring on our youth," he said.

Yancey and Turner said they would meet with Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole to discuss ways to improve community policing. They also called on adults to "adopt" a park or transit station to act as an extra set of eyes for police.

In the city's Dorchester section, parishioners at Greater Love Tabernacle called on business leaders to donate money or hire young people to let them know there are other options in life than violence.

Twenty-six people under the age of 24 have been killed in Boston this year, nearly double the number at this time last year, according to city and MBTA police. Much of the violence has happened at city parks.

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