City of Cambridge Awarded State Grant to Combat Gang Recruitment

The City of Cambridge has been awarded over $32,000 as a part of the state government’s annual Shannon Grant awards to fight organized criminal activity across the state.

The award, which totaled $5.7 million statewide, was distributed to 15 neighborhoods and 11 research organizations across Massachusetts. Cambridge’s award was part of a larger award to the Metro Mayors Coalition, a network consisting of Cambridge and thirteen other areas in the Greater Boston area.

Though gang violence is not as prevalent in Cambridge itself as in other areas of the state, Cambridge’s border with several densely populated urban areas makes the issue of gang recruitment one that concerns the Cambridge Police Department.

“We do acknowledge that there are neighborhood or designated locations that at-risk youth primarily associate with or identify with as their territory,” Jeremy Warnick, spokesperson for CPD, said. “So that’s really how we would describe gang activity in Cambridge and more so in the greater area.”

Cambridge Police
Cambridge Police officers.
The city plans to use the grant money to stay one step ahead of gang recruitment and educate at-risk youth before they enter the juvenile justice system, as it is oftentimes difficult to get out of the system. As in past years, the police department will continue to cooperate with youth centers across the city. Additionally, the department plans to put a greater focus specifically on community arts centers.

“We’re being involved in the arts center’s teen media program, where they do everything from graffiti art to comic book design to DJ workshops,” Warnick said. “It’s the idea of keeping them distracted, keeping them busy, avoiding potentially engaging in any potential activity that may be detrimental to them and others.”

In addition to the youth programs, the police department also plans to use the grant to support their Hot Spot Patrol program. This unit evaluates data from the department to analyze where crime may be more prevalent.

According to the most recent Cambridge Police Annual Crime Report, roughly 21 percent of juvenile arrests in Cambridge occurred in the five neighborhoods that Harvard occupies. The Mid-Cambridge neighborhood—which encompasses Harvard Yard, parts of Central Square, and the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School—accounts for five percent of juvenile arrests. The largest percentage of juvenile arrests, 44 percent, occurred in East Cambridge, just north of MIT campus.

Around Harvard, organized crime has not traditionally been seen as prevalent as in other areas in Boston. According to Warnick, most of the crime seen around campus consists of petty larceny or theft. Earlier this semester, laptops and other valuables were stolen from dorm rooms in Lowell House.

—Staff writer Michael E. Xie can be reached at michael.xie@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelEXie1.

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