Mayor Advances Gang Violence Program at Exploratory Meeting Tonight

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini tours Lowell’s UTEC program, aimed at addressing gang violence. (Courtesy photograph.)

A meeting to plan the makeup and goals of Mayor James J. Fiorentini’s Gang Violence Task Force takes place tonight.

The mayor told WHAV he envisions a program along the lines of Lowell’s United Teen Equality Center—or UTEC for short. He said he recently visited the program and found it offers jobs and educational opportunities to “disconnected youth and those formerly incarcerated.”

“Unless we intend to lock up our young people forever for crimes like selling marijuana, we need to focus more on getting them out of gangs, giving them positive alternatives and addressing gang activity in more creative and comprehensive ways,” he said.

Fiorentini said the initial meeting, which takes at 6 p.m. in his City Hall office, is aimed at identifying people to serve on the task force. Police and school officials as well as representatives from UTEC, Northern Essex Community College, local community groups and business leaders have been invited.

A gang violence task force was one of the promises the mayor made last week in the aftermath of four separate shooting incidents in the Acre neighborhood.

In a statement, he added, it has been a challenge getting residents of Haverhill’s inner-city neighborhoods to trust police officers.

“The people in the Acre and Mount Washington areas treat police like an occupying army,” Fiorentini said. “They don’t want to talk to them. We have had shooting victims who literally tell us they didn’t know they were shot.

“I visited UTEC to get some ideas for addressing our gang violence problem that don’t involve police, who will of course always be our number one way of keeping our residents safe,” the mayor said.

In Lowell, UTEC participants work an average of two years at various jobs, including UTEC’s onsite café, or a catering restaurant, furniture-making shop or recycling facility in Lawrence.

Lowell Deputy Police Superintendent Kelly Richardson said UTEC has been invaluable in defusing gang-related disputes in Lowell.

“When we hear about a problem, we send in UTEC before things escalate and shots are fired,” Richardson said. “It’s been very successful and we have a great relationship with them.”

8 thoughts on “Mayor Advances Gang Violence Program at Exploratory Meeting Tonight

  1. Well, something needs to be done. I think if we deported all the illegals that would be a great start. I’m not quite sure why that hasn’t been done. I also think a lot of people that live in these neighborhoods complain on Fb when what they should be doing is forming groups and attending city council meetings, neighborhood watch groups etc. Only one person from the acre came to this weeks City council meeting to speak about the violence in their neighborhood and offered ideas to help make a change. One person!! Where was the rest of the neighborhood? You need to stand together to make your neighborhood better. Work with the city. They will help.

    On another note, I saw a drug deal today in the whiskey barrel parking lot. In broad daylight! At one of the busiest areas of town. Several months ago while I was in my car my 12yr old pointed out a drug deal to me after we crossed the comeau bridge from Bradford into haverhill. It was between a kid with a backpack and an old guy that just walked by him and the exchange was done quickly by hand. I’ve seen people from out of state standing outside of Restaurants downtown waiting for drugs.

    This city is going to hell in a hand basket, quickly. The drugs are rampant.

    We need more police and government involvement!

    • Can’t stop the supply & demand of the drug trade. Illegal in this city are openly accepted by the political establishment in Haverhill and on Beacon Hill. The politicians like Mayor Jimmy invited it all in by creating a ridiculously skewed underclass, now he can choke on it.

    • Paige, I’ve had the same experience in witnessing drug deals all over the city. What do you expect when you have liberal democrat politicians working hard to decriminalize drugs and a president (Obama) who pardoned ten of thousands of drug dealers and did away, or reduced, many of the drugs laws on the books?

      What we’re witnessing is the end affect of liberal public policy playing out in the real world. I don’t think there’s one person who can say the drug issue isn’t a huge problem, yet people keep voting for democrats who created it.

  2. Doesn’t take a genius to deduce that either these people are afraid to divulge the names of these criminal invaders, or they just plain don’t want to co-operate with the police. Either way, it is unlikely that any illegal is going to co-operate with law enforcement no matter what is done.

    The City can throw money at the problem — BUT let’s face it, the money STILL comes from the responsible tax payers of Haverhill, and you can treat these people with kid gloves all you want, but CRIME AND SHOOTINGS are what you will get, and all you will get! UTEC will get us just more of the same and cost more money in the process. We already pay $1.8 Billion in Massachusetts now for the care and feeding of illegals. What will this cost?

    And some of our City Fathers want more of this???? Gluttons for punishment!!!

  3. The Mayor needs to realize that this crime issue to years to develop and it will take years to fix. The programs that help create the problems are the same you support and have for decades. Let’s start with cutting benefits for illegals then get back to welfare to work programs. Plenty of jobs at Dunkin’ Donuts !

  4. If you needed indisputable proof the Failurentini is certifiably insane read the article today in The Eagle Tribune of him partnering with Lawrence mayor Daniel Riveria to try and attract Amazon to locate their new headquarters in the two cities. Lawrence is literally rated one of the most dangerous cities in the country, with Haverhill quickly approaching the same level, and these liberal clowns think executives of the largest retail company in the world are going to put the lives of their employees at risk by having them come to these communities to work? It’s simply amazing how out of touch with reality these brain dead liberals are. The mayor couldn’t even keep a small Comcast facility in the city because of the crime and drugs here, and he thinks he’s going to attract a company looking to locate 50,000 employees?

  5. “The people in the Acre and Mount Washington areas treat police like an occupying army,” Fiorentini said. “They don’t want to talk to them.’

    According to Alice Mann, spokesperson for the areas largest pro-illegal immigrant advocacy group, The Merrimack Valley Project, the number one reason to allow illegals to stay in the country is because of the assistance they provide in solving crimes. These crazy liberals are using the same issue to sell two different mutually exclusive talking points.

    Hey mayor, have you driven down White Street recently? With cops working in tandem and standing on street corners it “is” an occupying army.