Fiorentini said $27,000 will be used for extra police patrols in areas of the city where crime is rising and to pay for police officers to accompany court officers when they go into the community to check on people on probation with a history of violence. The checks are designed to make sure those people are following the terms of their supervised release, such as living and working where they are supposed to be and staying sober, the mayor said.
The rest of the money will be spent on a variety of education and training programs, the mayor said. They include a “gang resistance” program offered by police to children ages 10 to 12 at the Boys & Girls Club and the schools’ Violence Intervention Program, which counsels students on how to resist the allure of gangs. The grant also pays for community outreach for officers to meet with resident groups that have identified gang hangouts or drug-dealing in their neighborhoods, the mayor said.
“There’s no real way to measure gang activity, other that anecdotally,” Fiorentini said. “Gang members move in and out of the city all the time. We feel these programs and the grant money are valuable and they work. But it’s tough to measure.”
Overall, the mayor said, crime is down about 2 percent in Haverhill in the last year. That’s according to a year-long October 2011 to October 2012 analysis of reported crimes. Fiorentini said the new crime report will be released in a month or two.
Police Chief Alan DeNaro was with the mayor during a phone interview with a reporter on the Shannon grant and gang activity in the city, but DeNaro did not take questions. The chief also did not respond to an email seeking his comment for this story.
The patrolmen’s union said the Police Department continues to be woefully understaffed, but that its ranks are finally growing after many years of attrition. The city recently hired three new officers, bringing the total of patrolmen and detectives to 65 — still one of the lowest officer-to-resident ratios in the region, the union said.