In Hartford, Mayor And Police Chief Assure Residents About Steps To Quell Violence
By SAMAIA HERNANDEZ
June 15, 2012
HARTFORD —— Her face etched with emotion, a woman who spotted a casually dressed MayorPedro E. Segarrawalking on Albany Avenue Friday night waited for a moment, then grabbed his hand.
"Why are they killing innocent people?" she asked.
Their hands locked, Segarra gazed into her eyes and assured her that a small group was mostly responsible for the city's shooting crimes.
A week after one of the most violent weekends in recent memory, Segarra and Interim Police Chief James Rovella held an "On the Beat" appearance: visits to neighborhoods begun last summer during another outbreak of violence.
At 8 p.m., they held a media briefing before driving to various parts of the city in an effort to talk directly to residents and business owners.
"People are living very fearful right now," Segarra told a group of reporters and photographers in front of City Hall. "Even the people who are shooting at each other are fearful, themselves."
Last week, eight people were wounded in a weekend of gun violence that claimed the lives of two young men. As of Friday, no arrests had been made in any of the shootings.
Two days after a 16-year-old from Windsor was fatally shot in the area of Thomaston Street, the city released federal crime statistics showing a 27.7 percent decrease in shooting incidents this year.
Segarra repeated the figure Friday, and also noted a more than 50 percent decrease in homicides. In a statement released Tuesday, the police department said it has successfully recovered 109 firearms as of June.
"We are learning ways to be more effective," Segarra said. "To deny the fact that there has been progress is not fair."
The mayor also announced plans to appoint a permanent police chief on or before July 4.
Inside of the Coconut Café, 719 Albany Ave., George McKenzie, a relative of the owners, agreed with the mayor in at least one way: rampant violence, they both said, is directly related to a lack of employment opportunities.
McKenzie, a relative of the bar's owners, said he did not understand how the city received millions in federal stimulus money when many people living in housing projects are unemployed.
Two-thousand jobs will be created over the summer, however, Segarra said, as part of a local youth employment program.
"It's good that they're showing up," McKenzie said of the visit. "It's good [public relations] work on their part, but it lacks substance."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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