June 8, 2006
By DANIEL E. GOREN, Courant Staff Writer
About a week after state and city officials said state police would help city officers try to quell a wave of violence in Hartford's North End, the Hartford Police Department announced Wednesday that Operation True North was getting underway.
The plan includes the deployment of a state police supervisor and six troopers who sources said will hit the city's streets Friday. The troopers will join Hartford patrol officers and federal agents already working in the city.
Hartford police had previously announced they were beefing up their presence in the neighborhood.
In a prepared statement Wednesday, Police Chief Patrick J. Harnett said the operation will aim to "identify, aggressively pursue and bring to justice those individuals involved in gangs who are responsible for committing acts of violence in the Northeast sector of our city."
"The overall goal is to stop the violence in the affected neighborhoods, reduce fear and improve the quality of life for residents, business owners and visitors to the city," he said.
Harnett's announcement comes after a rash of violence that has left 20 people shot since May 24, three of them fatally.
The violence also spurred a clash between Mayor Eddie A. Perez and Gov. M. Jodi Rell, as each accused the other of not cooperating in the fight to stop gun violence on city streets.
The public sparring match highlighted a tense relationship between Rell, a Republican, and Perez, a Democrat who strongly supports Democrat Dannel P. Malloy's bid to unseat Rell in November.
Perez and Rell agreed to cooperate after Perez invited the press to join him on a walk from city hall to Rell's office at the Capitol. The governor was not in, but Perez met with the governor's staff and both sides said they would put aside their personal differences to fight crime.
After the June 1 meeting, Rell sent out a press release announcing the imminent deployment of state troopers in the city.
The six new state troopers will be paired with local officers to perform directed patrols and enforcement in the city's most troubled areas. They will also provide investigative support to Hartford police.
Because of a clause in the local police union contract, all uniformed officers from outside law enforcement agencies who are assigned to patrol Hartford must have a city police officer working as their partner, said Nancy Mulroy, spokeswoman for the police department.
The Hartford officers assigned to work with the troopers are paid at an overtime rate, or 11/2 times their hourly wage, under the terms of the contract.
Mulroy said that the city paid $41,106 in overtime when the state police came to the city in 2005. Similar circumstances also required help from the state police in 2001 and 2003.
Members of the latest operation will solicit help from the community, including the use of a tip hot line staffed by investigators at 860-527-TIPS. Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano has said his witness protection unit is ready to help prosecute offenders.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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