But Hartford Police Briefing Offers Little Supporting Data
August 1, 2007
By TINA A. BROWN, Courant Staff Writer
Flanked by members of his command staff, Hartford Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts said Tuesday that the public should be proud of his department's efforts to curb crime this summer without the assistance of state police.
Roberts said his "Safe Summer Initiative," which began June 17, has been a success. The initiative redeployed officers on foot, in patrol cars and on bicycles in Hartford's North End.
While proclaiming the first six weeks of the program a success, however, the department provided little evidence. It offered no data comparing crime during the period to the same period last year.
Roberts instead pointed to data for the entire calendar year showing overall crime in the city is down by 19 percent since Jan. 1.
"If you look at the reduction, I'm confident in saying that the Hartford Police Department is doing a good job," Roberts said. "This builds confidence and trust. It says as a police department, we're going to do our best."
A department news release distributed at the briefing listed 1,000 vehicle stops, 130 narcotics arrests and other activity during the six weeks in the city's Northeast sector. But it showed no comparable figures for the same period last year. Nor did it cite specific data for other neighborhoods.
Statistics posted on the department's website showed overall crime citywide was down 22 percent during the first four weeks of July. But it showed no data for the last two weeks of June - the first two weeks of the initiative.
According to the year-to-date figures revealed at the press conference, murders have increased by 13 percent and rapes have risen 40 percent. Robberies have declined 16 percent and burglaries are down 1.3 percent. Larcenies are down 25 percent, in part because license-plate thefts have plunged this year as registration stickers have moved from the plates to inside vehicle windshields.
During his briefing, Roberts did not discuss the department's measures in the South End, where in July there were three murders, the fatal stabbing of an intruder by a homeowner and the arson of a parking lot where vehicles impounded for the police department were stored.
Asked about the progress of the investigation of the execution-style shotgun deaths of two teenagers in July, Roberts said the investigation is ongoing.
"We've got some people we are looking at," he said. "When there is a homicide, we won't stop until we solve the crime."
Roberts said he hopes to increase the department's 410 officers to 600 in the coming years. "We have to start with the small things or they will lead to the big things," he said.
Also Tuesday, Roberts announced that he is conducting interviews to find a successor to Assistant Chief Jose Lopez, who became chief in Durham, N.C. Roberts said he expects to announce Lopez's successor within three weeks.
The department currently has one assistant chief, Lester McKoy, and two deputy chiefs, Paul Hammick and Neil Dryfe.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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