HARTFORD —— Community leaders and residents addressed Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Mayor Pedro Segarra and the city's police chief, James Rovella, on Tuesday, calling for proactive solutions to gun violence and better ways of working with newly released prisoners.
They expressed concern about recidivism, the need for better training for ex-offenders and more effective strategies to help those leaving prison find jobs. They also called for friendlier relationships between the police department and the community.
The suggestions were raised during a panel discussion on urban violence, also attended by city council members, Hartford State's Attorney Gail Hardy and Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane, at the Parker Memorial Community Center on Main Street.
Rovella said the department has worked diligently to improve relations with the community, with at least 70 officers out in the community at all times. The departmetn has also reduced the number of overall shootings, from 39 people shot at this point last year to 28 people shot so far this year, he said.
Rovella noted that police have been working with the state probation department, as part of a newer program called PROSPER, to develop relationships with probationers that help keep them out of trouble.
He said federal and state authorities are still committed to bringing Project Longevity to Hartford, though he didn't know when the initiative would begin in the city. The project, which is aimed at building a partnership between community members, service organizations and law enforcement to deter homicides and shootings, was incorporated into New Haven's policing efforts last year.
The Rev. Henry Brown, whose organization, Mothers United Against Violence, holds vigils to commemorate city homicide victims, called on state and local officials to show more support for the families and friends of the victims. He suggested that they attend the vigils.
"When we lose our kids to violence, our leaders don't show enough compassion," he said Tuesday. "Show us that you care about us. Don't talk to us — show us."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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