YMCA and Boston police plan hot dog cookouts to help stem wave of violence in city

In an attempt to connect with a Roxbury community already stung by a summer surge in violence, Boston police officers will join YMCA staff Friday for the first in a series of hot dog cookouts they hope will attract the neighborhood’s young adults, the YMCA said today.

The weekly cookout, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. every Friday at the Roxbury YMCA branch at 285 Martin Luther King Blvd., is part of the city’s wider strategy to engage youth in troubled neighborhoods through large social events and acclimate them to police.

In May, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino unveiled a plan to curb summer violence that combined city-sponsored events like outdoor movie nights with an increase in police presence and neighborhood watch groups.

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There have been 104 shootings in Boston as of June 11, according to police, up more than 25 percent from the 81 shootings recorded during the same period last year. The number of fatal shootings by June 11 has risen as well, up to 17 so far this year compared to 12 homicides in the same time period last year.

This past weekend, there were seven shootings in Boston. A shooting Saturday morning on McGreevey Way in Roxbury sent a man to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Later in the day Saturday, an exchange of gunfire between two cars in Mattapan left a man dead, according to Boston police.

Katie Saunders, executive director of the Roxbury YMCA, asked police officers to participate in the cookout after seeing an increase in violent crime in the neighborhood, according to the statement.

Several officers who regularly patrol Roxbury will hand out the grilled dogs from the Boston Police Deprtment’s hot dog cart. The event’s organizers hope to serve more than 400 YMCA members and other Roxbury residents, according to the statement.

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