Foot Patrols Lead To Less Crime In Boston

Looking for the main reason serious crime — murder, shootings and robberies — have nose-dived in Boston this year? Try old-fashioned foot patrols.

Officer Joe Singletary, who volunteered for the new "Safe Street" teams, told CBS News correspondent Randall Pinkston that he can see the difference.

"You don't see much drug-dealing," he said " "You don't see a lot of the people hanging around."

The idea came from Boston's new police commissioner, Edward Davis.

"Officers on foot have an effect on crime," said Davis. "Officers in cruisers do not have a major effect on lowering the crime rate."

Sgt. Nora Bastion, who heads a team of six officers, said it was tough getting residents to accept them.

"They didn't believe us, first of all," she said. "They thought it was show."

And now …

"We see the cops every day, so we start to get a sense of trust and you know, 'you're my buddy and I like you, so it's a confidence builder,'" said café owner Saki Freeman.

Police officials began Operation Safe Street teams in March, putting foot patrols on the streets of three of Boston's high-crime neighborhoods. In just three months, the numbers already show that the foot patrols are already making a big difference.

For the first six months of the year, homicides were down 14 percent. Robberies were down 12 percent. And shootings were down 31 percent. Until this year, murders had been on the riser for the past decade.

"Gang violence has been the underlying cause of the increase in homicide over the last several years," said Davis. "A gang is not going to hang around in a neighborhood where there's a police officer walking."

Foot patrols are helping police turn attitudes around.

"It's a whole totally different feeling out here, like a sense of security," said Millicent Bodden, a hair stylist. "Definitely, that's what we needed." That didn't exist before, she added, "because anything can happen to you around here, anything."

For that reason, police make special efforts to connect to neighborhood kids to prevent them from connecting to neighborhood gangs.

"I feel safer," one youngster told Pinkston when asked about having more cops pounding the pavement. "There's not as much hoodlums around," another said.

Davis is so convinced foot patrols work that he's planning to expand them to other areas of Boston later this year.