No matter what side of the curfew debate you are on, there is no denying its positive effect in Hartford, which is why the city will extend it for another 30 days.
Since enforcement of the curfew — which requires anyone 18 and younger to be off the streets between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. — began Aug. 14, there has been only one shooting incident involving a juvenile during those hours. Because of the curfew, the Hartford Police Department has issued 119 written warnings, five juvenile summonses, five misdemeanor summonses and served two take into custody warrants. Ten of the curfew violators were from nearby towns and were taken home by police.
Make no mistake — a curfew is not a panacea. The curfew is merely a tool among many preventive measures we have used over the past month to curb gun-related violence among our youth. Statistics gathered before and after the application of all our initiatives show improvement upon which we will build.
Since the curfew began, shooting incidents in Hartford have decreased by 37.7 percent and shooting victims by 54.2 percent, when compared with the previous 28 days. Most notably, in the Northeast section of the city, we have seen a decrease in shooting victims of 71.4 percent and a decrease in shooting incidents of 62.5 percent.
In addition to the curfew, this remarkable reduction in gun-related violence is attributable to programs initiated by the department and its law enforcement partners at the state and federal level. A newly created "Shooting Team" has focused on getting the top 25 most dangerous people with a history of gun violence off our streets. Since the curfew was imposed,the Shooting Team has arrested nine of the 25 targeted individuals on a variety of charges, thereby ridding the city of those who have no regard for the safety of others.
Our Safe City Initiative began June 16 in partnership with the Connecticut State Police. Through Aug. 30, officers in this program had conducted more than 5,100 directed patrols, including park and walks (foot beats); made more than 2,100 arrests, including 453 drug arrests and 688 criminal trespass/loitering arrests; issued more than 2,225 motor vehicle violations; conducted more than 140 home visits; and served more than 200 arrest warrants. Since June 16, our Vice and Narcotics Division has seized over $36,000, more than 3,000 bags of heroin, 345 grams of cocaine and 12 pounds of marijuana, and made more than 225 arrests.
Thus far this year, we have seized 306 guns and made 165 firearm-related arrests, conducted more than 30,000 directed patrols and 7,450 park and walks, served more than 2,100 arrest warrants and made more than 10,840 arrests.
As school is now in session, the department has begun to work with the Hartford school system in the third year of our Truancy Reduction program. We continue to monitor the more than 520 sex offenders through our Sex Offender Registry Unit. Our Mounted Horse Patrol Unit is nearing completion of its training with the First Company Governor's Horse Guard and will soon be on patrol in our neighborhoods and parks.
The Shooting Team will continue its targeting of individuals prone to gun violence and work with the state's attorney's office to ensure they are prosecuted. With the help of Crime Stoppers, organized by the Metro Hartford Alliance, and the Text-A-Tip program launched by the Connecticut State Police, more people are stepping forward to assist police.
Despite our best efforts, gun violence among our youth remains a serious concern and should be a top priority within our community. Of the 22 homicides in the city this year, 12 of the victims were black and Hispanic males under the age of 25. We need to work with families to help them make their kids understand that using a gun is not the way to resolve conflict.
As a community, we need to raise our children — not let desensitizing video games become their mentors and role models. There are many caring people not only in this city, but in our region and state who can make a difference in the lives of young people.
Take some time to volunteer with organizations like the Big Brothers and Big Sisters, or through churches, schools and community-based organizations. Make time for our youth. They need our help and guidance so that they can make choices that lead them to full, productive and rewarding lives.
Even with law enforcement, the justice system and governments doing the best job they can, it still takes a village to raise our children. However, it is now time to examine the village — nothing replaces the power and influence of responsible parenting.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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