Hayden Credits Police, Community for Record-Low Homicides

Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden  credited cooperation and participation by residents of Boston’s neighborhoods and the “professional and tireless” work by Boston police for the historically low number of homicides in the city in 2023 and the high arrest and prosecution rate of suspects.

There were 37 recorded homicides in Boston in 2023, with two of the deaths having occurred in 2022 but not ruled homicides by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner until 2023. Arrests were made in 24 of the cases, resulting in a 67.5 percent case arrest rate.

“This is a heartening story of increased cooperation and participation by members of our community and top-notch work by Boston police officers and homicide detectives, all combining to provide a slice of positive news in relation to this most terrible of crimes.  No one is taking any victory laps here, especially when serious crime still disproportionately affects our communities of color, but it’s important to point out promising trends,” Hayden said. “When our communities reach an ‘enough is enough’ consensus, positive change is possible and I think that’s an important part of what we’re seeing here.”

Hayden also praised the Massachusetts State Police contingent assigned to his office for making arrests in each of the three homicides that occurred in other Suffolk County communities in 2023.

Hayden credited Mayor Michelle Wu’s Office of Neighborhood Services with increasing communication and cooperation with members of the public.  He also said that technology, such as video surveillance and digital forensics including cell phones and social media traffic, has given investigators added tools to help solve homicides and other cases.

“One thing I’ve learned over my career is that reductions in any type of crime come as a result of numerous factors, some of them human and some of them scientific or technological, all contributing to a certain outcome.  The continuing goal is to identify what is working, stay with it, and recognize further unmet needs,” Hayden said.

Hayden’s office secured convictions in 12 of the 13 homicide cases that went to trial in 2023 for a 92.3 percent conviction rate.  The office also secured 19 pleas in homicide cases.

Hayden pointed out that Boston’s homicide rate in 2023 compared favorably with numerous other cities with similar population size, including Washington D.C. (678,972 pop., 274 homicides), Baltimore (569,931 pop., 259 homicides), Detroit (620,376 pop., 252 homicides), San Francisco (808,437 pop., 53 homicides), and Memphis (621,056 pop., 397 homicides).

“There’s always work to be done and improvements to be made. Gun-related violence remains a public health crisis in our communities of color and is a problem rooted in racial inequity locally and nationally.  But perspective is also important, and looking at what’s happening in other cities of similar size gives Bostonians the ability to take pride in our community while we strive for even better outcomes,” Hayden said.

Hayden also praised police and the community for the 20-percent reduction in 2023 shooting incidents in Boston, from 180 in in 2022 to 144 last year.  Hayden’s office assigns a prosecutor to every case of fatal or non-fatal shooting in Boston to work with detectives on identifying suspects and to help spot any patterns that could develop information on past shootings and help prevent future shootings.

“The intersection between guns, gangs and drugs is perfectly clear to us. Developing data and intelligence on cases involving any of these elements can give us valuable insight into prior incidents and how those incidents may lead to future violence. This is a crucial aspect of our approach,” Hayden said.

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