Tag Archives: Oak Hill

Worcester Shot-Spotter update


By Sue Moynagh

On Monday, April 14, ShotSpotter was up and running, hooked up with the Real Time Police Center and also with California reviewing offices that screen the information and help filter out noises that are not gun- related. On the following Wednesday, the Worcester Police Department held a Crime Watch Summit to give information to city officials and residents about ShotSpotter and its prospects for fighting gun violence in Worcester. The technology was explained and demonstrations were given via a power point presentation. ShotSpotter is doing its job!

First up to speak was Mayor Joseph Petty, a member of the nationwide group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, who is adamant about cleaning out gun violence in our city. He noted that ShotSpotter is already paying dividends. Next to speak was City Manager Ed Augustus. He stressed the importance of the partnership between neighborhood crime watches and the police. He also emphasized the importance of incorporating cutting-edge technology in the fight against crime. Worcester Police are constantly innovating their methods and technological tools, and ShotSpotter is a vital tool in the police arsenal to tighten their response to gun fire.

Deputy Chief Mark Roche and Captain Paul Saucier made the main presentation. What is ShotSpotter and why do we need it? Basically, ShotSpotter is a web- based system of sensors that detect loud noises, filter them, and allow police to respond quickly to gun fire. The sensors triangulate the position, allowing police to zero in on the exact location, but also give information about number of shots, time of activity, movement and direction if this is a driveby shooting, and even may identify type of weapon used. .As Deputy Chief Roche said of officers going into harm’s way- they have “better info going in.” They know if this is a single shot, or multiple shots, with the same or different firearms. More shots mean more personnel can be sent to the scene. Most important, they get there quickly, in minutes usually, so they have a better chance of catching the suspects, aiding victims, and collecting vital evidence.

I admit I have never called in when I hear gun shots. Usually it is late at night, and I have no clear idea of where the shots are coming from, especially if they are not close. Why don’t I call? I hesitate to call because at crime watch meetings, I have been taught to be very clear, very precise with descriptions when I call in a complaint. The more information given, the better the response. I feel as if I would be too vague if I say, “I heard three gunshots, but I don’t know where they are coming from.” How could police respond to that? According to Captain Saucier, people can detect gunfire half a mile away. Now with ShotSpotter, they can pinpoint the location within feet. They explained that the calls are important as records of gun shots, so they asked us to “Please call!”

I am not the only one who does not call. Only about 20- 25% of gun shots are called in. This includes the two incidents on Barclay Street in the Union Hill neighborhood. On April 13, at 1:06 a.m. gun shots were detected by ShotSpotter, but nothing was called in. Shell casings were found at the location. On Friday, April 24, gun shots were again detected by ShotSpotter at 2:40 a.m. This time the shots were fired into a window at 43 Barclay Street. At 10:00 a.m., police were contacted when the owner of the house found a suspicious device on his SUV. The State Police Bomb Squad assisted the Worcester Police Department; including a K-9 bomb sniffing dog in dealing with the threat. The bomb was safely detonated, and no one was injured. Again, these shots were not called in to police. Unreported shots have been detected in other neighborhoods as well, even before the sensors were connected to the California review center. This includes an incident on April 12, where shots were confirmed at Hollis and Wyman Streets at 2:15 a.m.

Critics complain about the high cost of ShotSpotter and point out that no one has been caught yet. The cost of installation and use of this technology in the six square mile section of Worcester, along with cameras that will provide visual evidence will be approximately $1million for the three year trial period. As the police pointed out at the Crime Watch Summit, ShotSpotter is guaranteed to be 80% accurate in the contract, but is actually closer to 90% accurate in detecting gun fire. If people don’t call in when they hear gunshots, there is no record of gun activity. ShotSpotter confirms this is a real event.

When decisions are made about police presence in a neighborhood, inaccurate data can mean fewer officers. Now the data coming from ShotSpotter support the need for police presence in higher risk areas. As Deputy Chief Roche explained, “The quality of the investigation is increased. Resources are deployed based on data…data-led policing.”

Police on the scene collect evidence from a 25 meter area around the pinpointed location. Even though the shooter may be gone, gun casings are easier to find and collect. They may provide evidence in future cases. When a suspect is apprehended, evidence will allow police to tie this person to previous shootings.

Most important of all, lives may be saved. Innocent people get caught up in gang shootings, and are seriously injured or even killed. I’m sure we’ve all read tragic stories about children being caught in gunfire between gangs. Stray bullets can hit homes. Calls that do come in to dispatch can take up to 10 minutes for response. Now with ShotSpotter, a call to officers can go out in 30 seconds to a minute, which can mean the difference between life and death. How do you put a price on a life?

This is just the first Phase of the ShotSpotter deployment. In Phase II, cameras will be installed. These will be the “eyes” that detect cars or suspects leaving the scene. Much of the funding will be coming from CSX mitigation funds, but the City of Worcester will also pay a portion. A member of the CSX Subcommittee said that the data coming from ShotSpotter will be examined in the near future, and more funding may be made available from that source.

Both Deputy Chief Mark Roche and Captain Paul Saucier did a commendable job in keeping city officials and residents informed about the technology and how it will benefit high risk areas of the City. I have seen evidence in my neighborhood that ShotSpotter works and I support its use wholeheartedly. I also look forward to the day when we no longer need this type of protection in my community. Residents have to do their part as well. Now when I hear shots, I will call, because I know my report of gunshots is being validated by ShotSpotter. I hope others will become more involved, because we are ultimately responsible for the safety and quality of our neighborhoods.

60 Providence St. – gangs, drugs, violence, guns (for YEARS!)

 By “Jane Doe”

Recently, there has been quite a bit of publicity about the gang activity and increasing violence centered around 60 Providence Street. Newspaper articles claim that police have been responding to complaints for the past two years. While it is true that crime has increased during this time, complaints have actually been made about that building for over ten years.

        I remember attending the opening meeting of the Providence Street Neighborhood Watch in winter of 2001 and hearing neighbors voice concerns about that property and some of the buildings in that area. People noticed that young men were meeting in front of 60 Providence Street selling drugs. Most of these men did not live in the building, but came from neighboring streets. Steve Patton from Worcester Common Ground was invited to one of the meetings to discuss solutions to the problem. One idea was to put up security cameras in hallways and entranceways. Things quieted down a bit but did not disappear entirely.

        A few years later, we noticed that PSP (Providence Street Posse) was being spray painted on some of the buildings, vacant and occupied, around the Harrison Street and Providence Street corner. Neighbors brought this to the Worcester Police gang unit’s attention at the crime watch meeting. We were told that this was not a recognized gang, but a bunch of young kids who were trying to play at being gang members. There was nothing to worry about.

         Over the past few years things have been getting worse. Gunshots are frequent. You can see drug dealers standing on the corners or walking up and down the streets. There have been drive-by shootings, fights and attempted robberies. The Providence Street Posse, gang member wannabes, are now moving into other parts of the city as full- fledged gang members. Now that this violence has moved into downtown Worcester, city officials are sitting up and taking notice.

         Many people feel that their complaints to police were ignored, but I don’t think this is true. Laws protecting the rights of the offenders often limit what police can do. Often police make arrests, just to have these criminals released back into the neighborhoods. Police cannot make arrests solely based on complaints. They usually have to catch drug dealers in the act. It takes time to build up a case to put these people away. In the meantime, this section of the city continues to get worse as gangs get more powerful and rival gangs move into the area. It is disheartening to hear people from other neighborhoods talk about your home as being in a “war zone.”

         Unfortunately, many of us feel like we are caught in a vicious cycle. As decent people get sick of the situation, they move out to safer communities. Those of us who cannot move live in fear of what will happen next. As decent people move out, more of the troublemakers move in. Violence escalates.

          I have no solutions. I wish laws were stricter, making it easier to arrest these criminals, put them away, and keep them away. I wish we could walk and drive through this neighborhood without fear of becoming victims. I especially wish landlords could be more careful about who moves into their buildings and be more aggressive in evicting troublemakers. In the meantime, many of us wish we could just get out. Too bad. This was once a nice middle class neighborhood, where people knew each other and looked out for one another. There was almost no crime. I wish we could go back to the way it was!

Crime and violence in our city

By Sue Moynagh

Recently, there has been increased gun violence in the Oak Hill neighborhood of Worcester, especially this past summer. Two shots were fired at a car on Harrison Street early in July. Soon after this, shots were fired at the Coral and Waverly Street intersection. There was a shooting on Mendon Street on August 24, and within a week, approximately six shots were fired at a house near the corner of Providence and Harrison Streets.

A woman was shot and killed on Fairfax Road.

I have also heard two gun shots on Saturday, October 9, at 10:40 p.m., and four shots the following Friday at approximately the same time. A small local market had the door window smashed and was robbed at gun point soon afterwards. Most or all of these incidents are tied in with drug activity in the area. Two long-time residents have had bullets shot through their windows.

Recently a man was attacked and hit over the head with a hammer on Mott Street. Continue reading Crime and violence in our city

Crime update

By Sue Moynagh

A month ago, a group of neighborhood people, with the help of Representative John Fresolo, held a press conference to speak out against increasing violence in our Union Hill community. I wrote an article for the InCity Times a few days later, detailing our concerns, and letting the public know that we all have to play a part in taking back our neighborhood. On Monday, November 29, there was another press conference, in Green Island’s Crompton Park, because of another act of senseless violence. The body of Kevin Shavies, age 21, was found early Sunday morning. He died of a gunshot wound to the head. The violence continues.

Later on the same day, a group of concerned residents met at the Green Island Neighborhood Center for the second public hearing on the Crompton Park Master Plan Update. Police Chief Gary Gemme attended, knowing the issue of safety would be foremost in our minds. He could give little information about the victim or the progress of the investigation, which has been given high priority, but reassured residents that police presence in Green Island would increase. Reinforcements would come, however, from the Vernon Hill neighborhood. (Union Hill is often referred to as Vernon or Oak Hill). He also asked those present to call and report if they have any information about this crime. The need for community involvement is crucial. This was something we had stressed at our own neighborhood press conference a month ago- the need for public participation in taking back our community. Continue reading Crime update