McKenna joins local leaders in strategy session on crime

Winthrop Town Manager James McKenna was one of a number of local leaders who met earlier this week to discuss ways to snuff out the violence and drug trafficking leading to it during a meeting with Secretary Mary Beth Heffernan of the Executive Office of Public Safety.

The meeting was held Monday afternoon at the State House.

During a frank and wide ranging discussion of the crucial crime issues of the day McKenna pointed to the fact that everyone present had already signed a cooperation agreement and that it was evidence of the resolve each of the respective police departments had in working together to solve each others crime problems.

“We are much stronger working together than by ourselves,” he said.

Secretary Heffernan said she would meet with the governor to discuss priorities.

Chelsea city manager Jay Ash said new policies needed to be adapted to the situations unfolding.

He came to the meeting as state and Chelsea police were involved in two homicide investigations for two homicides that occurred over the Thanksgiving Day weekend. Chelsea has experienced a wave of violent homicides in recent months.

Ash said he had concluded that the best way of reducing the rates of violence was to address the drug activity, and that law enforcement professionals speculate that as much as 80-90% of the violence in our communities stem from drug activities.

“If we can solve the drug problem, the violence will be solved along side of it,” Ash said.

Revere’s Mayor Thomas Ambrosino spoke about crime having no boundaries.

“A regional approach is needed,” he said.

“Such a strategy could produce deeper, more sustaining results,” he added.

On the able for discussion was the plethora of violence and drug dealing affecting the cities and towns represented and what to do about it.

Police chiefs from the various communities were also present.

The State and nearly all its municipalities are experiencing tremendous financial pressures and, therefore, are challenged to find new resources to address any new initiatives.

DeMaria pressed for answers and Heffernan responded favorably to the description of the issues municipalities are facing and the potential solutions that have been identified.

“A regional approach to addressing the public safety concerns was a strategy that could produce deeper, more sustaining results,” DeMaria told the Transcript.

“She really seemed to listen and to be eager to find new solutions to our recurring problems with violence and drugs,” he added.

In addition, DeMaria said the police need wider powers to stem the tide of violence and to stop the flow of drugs in the community. “Police need to be able to stop known troublemakers causing problems all the time,” he added.

All present agreed that Federal funding should be sought for initiatives intended to change the course of local crime history.

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