December 30, 2006
By STEVEN GOODE, Courant Staff Writer
Downtown Hartford will be getting a boost in foot traffic beginning Sunday in the form of a city police officer whose job will be walking a beat.
The beat is in the central business district from 4 p.m. to midnight, seven days a week.
"This is part of our goal of improving on the neighborhood policing plan and increasing the services we provide," Hartford Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts said Friday.
"It's our New Year's resolution."
Friday's announcement received a positive reaction from the downtown business community, which has been working on its own plan to step up a security presence there.
"Obviously we're very happy to see that the city has deployed an additional officer," said Ronald Morneault, co-owner of Tuesday's, an upscale men's and women's clothing establishment that has been at the corner of Ann and Asylum streets for 37 years.
Morneault, the president of Business for Downtown Hartford, said that with a dedicated community service officer already in place, there has been an increasing sense of security among the business owners and downtown residents.
"But to have a blue uniform on the street is a reassuring presence," he said. "And it will go a long way toward reassuring people who come here for the arts and sports events."
Morneault said increased police presence is also needed in the wake of a large influx of new residents downtown this year.
Four new residential properties have opened in that time.
"One officer is not enough, but it's a start. Economic development has outstripped the department's ability to keep up," he said.
To that end, Morneault said that the business improvement district, which he is a part of, is finishing plans to add at least eight full-time security personnel by early spring. They will patrol Asylum Hill and downtown on foot, he said, and provide extra eyes and ears to the police department.
In the meantime, Roberts said he will continue to work to hire more officers to expand beat patrols that have been successful in other areas of Hartford, including Albany and Farmington avenues, and Barbour and Martin streets.
"You can build good relationships just by getting out of your car," he said. "They love it. They get to know the officers."
Roberts said the department has 411 officers and that he hopes to increase the ranks beyond the 450 that is considered to be fully staffed.
"We don't want to take from one area to serve another," he said. "We need to continue to increase the numbers to improve our community policing."
Roberts said the arrest last week of a man suspected of committing a rash of burglaries and car break-ins in downtown garages served as a good example of the value of community policing and an engaged business community.
The suspect, Kenneth McFarlin, was caught Dec. 21 after being spotted peaking into cars by security in the garage at 1 Constitution Plaza.
Security called the downtown CSO, Joseph Fargnoli, who then arrested McFarlin.
Police said he was found to be in possession of burglary tools and a crack cocaine pipe. He is being held on $1 million bail.
Roberts said Friday that McFarlin had 48 previous arrests, mostly involving burglary and breaking and entering offenses.
"He's a career criminal, a one-man crime wave," Roberts said. "This is a guy that needs to be put away."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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