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Faith Summit on Violence Saturday

City Council Organizes First-Of-Its-Kind Meeting


August 03, 2012

HARTFORD —— The city council is convening a first summit with the faith-based community this Saturday, in an attempt to curb city violence.

The summit will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Hartford Public Library at 500 Main St.

The event comes on the heels of several deadly events. A total of 11 people were shot on the weekend of June 9-10 alone, resulting in two deaths, including 16-year-old DaJon Walcott.

The idea for a summit with the faith community was conceived about three weeks ago, primarily by council members Kyle Anderson, Cynthia Jennings and Shawn Wooden.

"Being raised in the city, I believe it takes a whole entire village to stem the problems that we have," said Anderson, who also heads the council's Public Safety Committee.

"A lot of these churches have youth programming or a youth pastor. That is a great way to make sure Johnny doesn't lash out and hurt others… or himself."

Jennings agreed.

"We need spiritual guidance and support outside of the church doors," she said. "Churches are probably the most important organizations for making people feel welcome as a community."

Previous meetings have been organized by the faith community before, but not by the council, said Jim Sergeant, executive assistant to the council president. An invitation letter was sent on July 20 to more than 100 city organizations, and more than 30 have confirmed attendance so fa, he said.

"The specific goal of this summit is to develop a strategy to partner with Hartford's faith-based community to make our streets safer and protecting our kids," Wooden wrote in the letter.

"It is our intention to facilitate workgroups on August 4th for the purpose of documenting faith-based resources, and to create a web of love and protection for our families — to show them that they are not alone in tackling our city's challenges."

In addition to council members, Interim Police Chief James Rovella is expected to attend. Rovella, appointed Feb. 14, was nominated on July 10 by MayorPedro E. Segarrato serve as chief, but has not yet been confirmed by council. During his confirmation hearings last Monday, Rovella often invoked the idea of working with the faith community to make the city safer.

Crime is down in Hartford so far this year compared with the previous four years in nearly every criminal category, according to the citywide weekly report from police department spokesperson Nancy Mulroy.

Through July 28, the city saw 69 shooting incidents, down from 89 in 2011, 82 in 2010, 90 in 2009 and 105 in 2008 through the same period in each of those years. The shooting incidents resulted in 12 homicides so far this year; the numbers in the past four years were 20, 11, 20 and 18.

However, Hartford's crime rates are still among the highest in Connecticut. The city averages 13.02 violent crimes per 1,000 residents compared to 2.81 statewide, and 412 crimes per square mile compared to 27 statewide, according to Neighborhood Scout.

"The city may be in a deficit," Jennings said, "but we are not in a deficit in terms of the number of people who want an end to all this violence."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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