City Councillors voted unanimously Monday night for an order by Councillor Giovanni Recupero to have a discussion with Police Chief Brian Kyes about the state of violence on the City’s streets – an order that was directly related to the murder and stabbing that took place last weekend.
“Most people tell me they don’t feel safe,” said Recupero on Monday, “even though they keep telling us crime is down 48 percent. Crime may be down in certain ways, but not this kind of violent crime. The Boston Herald is saying how bad our City is. I believe we should have a say in how our City is patrolled. I don’t want to be the police chief. I don’t know more than him. I know things people tell me and they’re afraid to walk out their own doors…If my grandchildren can’t go out the door, what’s the point? You can have all the economic development in the world, but without safety, you have nothing.”
Such orders from Recupero are not uncommon, as he has been a frequent critic of the police and has pushed discussions about public safety in the past. However, this time was different in that his 10 colleagues agreed with him.
Recupero, however, had called for an emergency meeting within 48 hours, which was blocked. After a friendly amendment which called for an update “as soon as possible” – which could be after the New Year – the order sailed through.
“Public safety is paramount,” said Councillor Dan Cortell. “It is very real, but it does not rise to the level of an emergency meeting of the City Council…I think the meeting should take place and as soon as possible.”
Councillor Leo Robinson said he wants to talk about other things outside of the omnibus 10-Point Plan on Crime that was drafted more than a year ago to combat public safety problems.
“I think it’s important we have dialog,” he said. “In the past I sent out five areas of concern to my colleagues. I’d like to discuss those with the chief…We need to go beyond and think about other initiatives beyond the 10-Point Plan…I’m not saying I’m an expert, but there are things going on in other communities that could help us at this point in time.”
Council President Matt Frank said sitting down with the chief is probably a good idea.
“I do think we are due for a periodic review with the police chief,” he said. “I would support the new council president scheduling a meeting in the New Year. I do believe we are long overdue to sit down with the police chief.”
Others speaking in support were Councillor Calvin Brown.
Councillor Brian Hatleberg voted for the amended order, but disagreed with the approach of calling in the police chief every time a negative incident happens.
“The level of crime we have is real and serious, but no more than it was three days ago or five days ago or than it will be tomorrow,” he said. “We are allowing ourselves to fall into a trap of negative crisis management. Something bad happens and our response is to yell at the Police Department. I don’t think that’s appropriate and I think that’s where a lot of the intent here comes from…We have to be more mature than that.”
There was no time set for the meeting with the chief, but it is expected to be scheduled in the New Year once a new council president has been elected.