Politics & Policy

Criminals, Beware

The Romney Massachusetts record.

From his first days in office as Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney understood that “[p]ublic safety is the single most important job of government.” As governor, Romney demonstrated his commitment time and time again to keeping families and their children safe from violent criminals, sexual predators, repeat drunk drivers and gang violence.

According to Department of Justice crime statistics, violent crime went down during Governor Romney’s tenure. In 2006, the FBI violent crime rate — which includes murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault — was 447 per 100,000 inhabitants. This was a decrease of almost 8 percent from 2002 when the rate was 484.4. The violent crime rate was consistently below the national average. Assault and rape in particular fell roughly 15 percent and 2 percent, respectively. Other crimes likewise fell during Governor Romney’s term in office, including motor vehicle theft, which fell 32 percent, and larceny, which fell 6 percent.

To address the growing murder rate in the City of Boston — what Governor Romney termed an “epidemic” and a “serious crisis” — he offered to have State Police troopers assist Boston police officers with patrol duties. He provided an immediate influx of $700,000 in state aid to faith-based and community groups working to solve this problem by diverting young people away from activities that lead to violence, particularly gang membership. Governor Romney also stepped up efforts to crack down on gang violence throughout the commonwealth. He approved anti-gang measures for the City of Somerville in 2004, established an $11 million statewide gang prevention program in 2005, unwrapped $1.5 million in state anti-gang funds for Boston and Springfield in 2004, and also tackled the issue of witness intimidation to provide protection for those who possess critical information in gang-related cases.

Under Governor Romney’s leadership, the total number of State Police grew by nearly 200 Troopers from 2,333 members to 2,524 — the highest in the agency’s history. He also doubled the size of the State Crime Lab, championed “Melanie’s Law,” the toughest drunk driving law in the commonwealth’s history, and signed legislation to publish the most dangerous sex offenders’ photos and addresses on the Internet. Governor Romney worked to expand the definition of sexually dangerous persons to make it easier for prosecutors to file civil petitions to keep the worst sexual predators off of the street after their criminal sentences were concluded.

This year, as one of his proposals to protect our children, Governor Romney has called for a new “One Strike, You’re Ours” law. This crime initiative will impose new, tougher federal penalties for first-time offenders who use the Internet to sexually assault children, including stiff mandatory jail time to be followed by lifetime tracking by Global Positioning Satellite (GPS). As a prosecutor who pursues online sexual predators, I would certainly welcome these penalties. Governor Romney has pledged to work with computer companies to ensure that every home computer has an effective and easy-to-engage filter to prevent unwanted pornography from reaching our children. Governor Romney recognizes that we must take action now because as the Internet becomes more accessible, there is a real danger that computer crimes committed against children will continue to rise.

Governor Romney has been a consistent supporter and advocate of the death penalty for convicted killers. In 2003, he put together a Council on Capital Punishment, a high-level panel made up of some of the world’s foremost experts on the subject. Then in 2005, Governor Romney filed a death penalty bill, seeking to restore capital punishment to the Commonwealth as a sentencing option for prosecutors, and testified on its behalf.

While serving as district attorney for Plymouth County in Massachusetts, I was thoroughly impressed by the governor’s consistent high level of commitment to law enforcement, victims, and public safety. Governor Romney should be rightly proud of his record in fighting crime and protecting the citizens of Massachusetts. It seems equally clear that he would bring this demonstrated commitment to being tough on crime to Washington to help protect all Americans.

Tim Cruz is the district attorney for Plymouth County in Massachusetts and served as president of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association during Governor Romney’s term. He is also a recipient of the Outstanding Local Prosecutor’s Office Award.

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