Setting things straight on resources after violent crime in Boston

It was another violent weekend in the city of Boston, with three shot and two killed in separate incidents in Roxbury and Dorchester.

“Yeah, it’s getting rough,” said Kevin Hayes of Roslindale. “I think you should be able to call the city and pinpoint where the crime’s happening. Because the police don’t do it. From here to Forest Hills, there have been shootings.”

And in the wake of those shootings, there has been trauma -- something the Boston Public Health Commission’s Neighborhood Trauma Team addresses, along with the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute.

“I think that’s really important, the support for people,” said Jackie Delisi of Roslindale. “People are looking for connection and looking for ways to talk with each other, especially now, post-pandemic.”

Finding that kind of connection can be a challenge after a violent crime.

“You call 9-1-1, the police show up but the police aren’t going to say, well if you need to talk with a counselor or something,” said Arthur Sutton of Hyde Park. “They don’t give you that information as well, which would be helpful.”

The city of Boston has set up a handful of neighborhood coalitions it calls VIPs -- for Violence Intervention and Prevention. But Boston 25 News found much of the contact information for the VIPs listed on the city’s website erroneous.

Two of the VIPs had phone numbers that didn’t work at all. Another just kept ringing. The Mattapan VIP was closed for President’s Day but, on a previous occasion, the person answering the phone had no knowledge of the woman listed by the city as the coordinator.

In addition, Boston 25 News sent e-mails to two other coordinators and they came back undeliverable.

Boston 25 News brought these errors to the attention of Mayor Michelle Wu -- and the city said it will be updating the contact information to ensure residents can get in touch with their respective VIPs.

One we were able to get in touch with: the Grove Hall VIP.

Michael Kozu is co-director of Project R.I.G.H.T., one of the VIP partners.

“We do a lot of meetings, a lot of outreach, a lot of follow-through,” Kozu said. “It’s allowed us to really develop and build extensive relations with young people, with families, with seniors.”

Kozu said recent violence in Boston can be discouraging -- but not enough to defeat the mission.

“Your heart just goes out when you see how young the victims are,” he said. “Or the suspects are. But at the same time you run into all these good stories, good examples and people making it. And that’s the stuff that keeps us going.”

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