Three city councillors in some of the more crime-prone neighborhoods of Chelsea have banded together this week to call for better communication and more police presence in their neighborhoods – the alliance forming on the heels of at least two brazen shooting incidents in their districts over the past two weeks.
District 4 Councillor Paula Barton, District 5 Councillor Joe Perlatonda and District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero said they have reached a breaking point with the activities in their neighborhoods and they are inviting their colleagues to join the call.
“We all know that crime isn’t going to go away, but we think it can be contained better,” said Recupero. “We have enough police. We have more than 100 officers now and all the shootings, stabbings and other things happen in our three areas. It’s time our districts get more attention. There isn’t as much happening in the other districts. Are they trying to say the people in our districts aren’t good enough to be protected or feel safe? Children should be able to go outside and be safe no matter what part of the city they live in. We keep getting told crime is down 33 percent. Is it really?”
Councillor Paula Barton said she would like better communication with the police, more input in legislation and an end to the gunplay she frequently hears.
“I just recently heard pop, pop, pop out my bedroom window on a Saturday night while I was trying to sleep,” she said. “What really bothers me is when crime happens, the city councillors aren’t notified. When I contact members of the police department, they tell me it’s retaliation for a crime two weeks ago or a shooting that happened in East Boston and it was planned. Just because it was planned doesn’t mean we shouldn’t know. I don’t want to be in the dark in my district. We should be the first to know because people call us to ask and we don’t have any answers. It shouldn’t just be a gunshot as usual, retaliation as usual or another uncooperative victim.”
She also said she would like to see more Council-initiated solutions to the problems, rather than solutions just put in front of them for approval.
“They just put it in the package for us,” she said. “We don’t write it. They write it. We’re just expected to put the rubber stamp on it. We need more input.”
Perlatonda, who has long taken issue with approaches on crime, said he doesn’t believe crime is down – at least not the crime that matters most. He said he is still interested in looking into a Police Commissioner and would like a re-examination of the recently passed 10-point plan.
“I’m so tired of hearing crime is down,” he said. “It’s not down. The people of Chelsea want something done. Are we the only ones here for the people? Are we the only ones listening? I have friends that live in different parts of the city, which I often visit, and I walk to get there. I’m starting to worry about my safety on those trips and the safety of children in the neighborhood too. Should I be applying for a gun permit to protect myself or do I have to hire my own bodyguard? We have enough police to patrol the city and we’re still not keeping it safe…The 10-point plan talks about liaisons helping out the drug addicts and the prostitutes, but we are not talking about the zombies walking around Bellingham Square. We are talking about crime, gang-related crimes. Is the 10-point plan going to fix this?”
Recupero said he feels many of the councillors don’t take his pleas seriously when it comes to public safety. He hopes that after the recent spate of violence, maybe they will.
“Some of the councillors care more about street cleaning that cleaning up the streets,” he said.