"We Remember": District Attorney Rollins Unveils PUSH – Project for Unsolved Suffolk Homicides

Office-wide effort invests more people, resources, and time into solving homicides

BOSTON, Sept. 27, 2019 – District Attorney Rachael Rollins today announced the launch of the Project for Unsolved Suffolk Homicides (PUSH), as part of her effort to refocus office priorities and assets to further the administration of justice in Suffolk County. PUSH will utilize the expertise of both non-legal and legal staff members to internally review unsolved homicide cases with fresh eyes, renewed interest, and a deep commitment to help residents who lost a loved one to violence.

"I know the gravity of our work weighs on our collective conscience, but the resolution of a case — or lack thereof — weighs particularly heavily on the hearts of the families of those affected by violence," District Attorney Rollins said. "As we saw last week at the Garden of Peace where 34 new names were added to that special place of remembrance and reflection, the scars of homicide never fully heal.

"The mission of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office is to strengthen the social fabric of our communities by keeping our neighborhoods safe and secure, and building a criminal justice system that works for everyone. PUSH moves us toward that goal."

Historically, about 60 percent of cases in Suffolk County involve charges such as drug possession, driving offenses, shoplifting, trespass, and other non-

violent offenses. By curtailing prosecution in some of these cases and diverting charged individuals to substance use or mental health treatment, job training, and restitution, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office under District Attorney Rollins will enhance its reinvestment strategy to focus on serious, violent crimes. Lesser, non-violent crimes can often be resolved adequately through other means.

"PUSH is ambitious, but the people of Suffolk County deserve to hear us say we remember your loved one. They are not just a case file. We will work to get you answers," District Attorney Rollins explained. "I know those answers may not come easy. If we want to succeed, we are going to need everyone in the office to commit to the project. I recently said, when remembering a homicide from 24 years ago, that we can accomplish more together than apart. My Office will now work toward that end."

PUSH will occur in stages. First, non-legal staff members will conduct a preliminary administrative review in which they will review case files to uniformly inventory each file and summarize their content and evidence, and identify sources of leads and potential next investigative steps. Second, the PUSH Assessment Committee will examine the findings of each administrative review to determine the next potential steps in the investigative process: either assigning legal staff within the office to continue the investigation or making recommendations to the Boston Police Department Homicide Unit.

The first wave of this casework will conclude in December. A second wave of administrative reviews will begin at the start of 2020 with a mandatory training and the distribution of case files to all non-lawyer staff. Each wave will proceed through the same stages in 90-day cycles.

"I know this work will be difficult as many cases could remain unsolved; however, it has great value. Lives were stolen, we must never forget that," District Attorney Rollins said. "I want us to be able to look into the eyes of a father or mother who lost their son and tell them that we remember him and are still looking for justice. I want to be able to look into the eyes of a daughter to say her father was not just a case; he was a person. I want to be able to tell a sister that her sibling mattered and still matters to this Office."

PUSH is another example of the Office’s commitment to proactive policies and is reflective of a paradigm shift and a willingness to explore unconventional methods in order to secure answers and accountability for families who have suffered irreparable harm.

"We will honor the humanity of those lost by attempting to ensure accountability," District Attorney Rollins said. "Justice is not a substitute for a life lost, but it is one small step on the unimaginable path toward finding peace."

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins’ office serves the communities of Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop, Mass. The office handles over 25,000 cases a year. More than 160 attorneys in the office practice in nine district and municipal courts, Suffolk Superior Court, the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court, and the Boston Juvenile Courts. The office employs more than 300 people and offers a wide range of services and programs to serve anyone who comes in contact with the criminal justice system. This office is committed to educating the public about the services we provide, our commitment to crime prevention, and our dedication to keeping the residents of Suffolk County safe.

Renee Algarin