Web Sites, Documents and Articles >> Hartford Courant News Articles >

Study on City Police Surfaces
Some Say They Weren’t Given Ilg’s $270,000 Report

November 12, 2004
By OSHRAT CARMIEL , Courant Staff Writer

It is a city document that has an air of mystery about it -- not because of what's in it, but because so few people have been able to get it.

A $270,000 consultant report on Hartford's police and finance departments has been guarded by the mayor's office with a secrecy more understandable for the Pentagon Papers.

Members of the city council say they never got a copy. So do activists and spending critics who wonder why the council hired a new consultant for the police department for $120,000 last month, while this report, by former City Manager Albert G. Ilg, never even got a public viewing.

In the end, Ilg's February 2004 report, which filtered out this week, is less a bombshell than it is a compilation of common sense management tips. It calls for decentralizing the police department into several neighborhood districts; suggests higher education standards for police officers; and theorizes that a well-organized department could -- and this may be sacrilege -- better police the city with far less staffing than it currently has.

And the report includes another finding: $2.4 million of lost money.

Ilg and his co-workers at Management Resources LLC uncovered that amount sitting as unused balances from long-completed -- or never started -- capital projects, some dating back to 1979.

Many of those projects have been closed since Ilg's final report was published, Finance Director Thomas Morrison said.

And so the louder whispering and guessing has been about Ilg's police recommendations, especially now that the council has approved a new police consulting contract, this time with The Gordon Wasserman Group LLC, which is pledging to improve "the efficiency and effectiveness'' of the police department.

As a result, Ilg's write-up, titled "Police Report for the City of Hartford,'' has now become a must-have among the city's document literati.

Councilman Kenneth H. Kennedy, who sits on the council's public safety committee, doesn't have it. He went so far as to send city lawyers a formal freedom of information request to get it.

"People had not seen that report. [The council] did not get a copy of the report,'' he said. "If we paid the amount of money that we have, then we should get a chance to look at it.''

A reporter asking for it was told she would get it -- as soon as officials could find it. They eventually did.

Carmen M. Rodriguez, a member of the police department's firearms discharge board of inquiry, got her long-awaited copy Wednesday.

"I was having a hard time getting it and that was very difficult to accept,'' she said. "I don't know why. Why?''

Matt Hennessy, chief of staff to Mayor Eddie A. Perez, didn't shed much light on it. He lauded the report as a valuable tool that has been given to recently hired Police Chief Patrick J. Harnett, and other decision-makers, to use at their discretion.

"My recollection was that it was distributed to council members,'' he said. "I specifically remember that. We've asked the chief to take a look at it. So the issues that have been raised in this report the chief has been made aware of.''

The mayor, Hennessy said, "hasn't taken a full position on it,'' though he disagrees with Ilg's assertion that the number of police personnel is not related to the amount of crime.

For all its secrecy, shades of Ilg's recommendations have cropped up publicly -- in the city's contract negotiations with the police union and in a recent neighborhood cleanup initiative announced by the mayor.

Ilg's key recommendation is this: Divide the city's police department into five, six or eight neighborhood precincts. These precincts would include police officers, rodent inspectors and housing inspectors who could respond to many of the quality-of-life calls that often go to police and slow down their response to other serious crimes and reduce their ability to become familiar with the community they cover. Dealing with the nuisances -- boarding up abandoned buildings and picking trash up from the street -- could also help reduce crime, Ilg theorized.

"There are not enough police officers, courts or jails for the Hartford police department to arrest the community out of crime,'' reads the report. "Reducing crime requires reducing the causes for crime.''

The city appears to be taking that cue. City hall is insisting on creating a precinct system in its contract talks with the police department, said police union lawyer Frank Szilagyi. That matter is actually a sticking point in the contract talks, Szilagyi said, because the city offered no specifics on how those districts would work or how many there would be. He's never seen a copy of Ilg's report.

The mayor also mirrors the report in his recently announced "quality of life initiative.'' That plan will dispatch bands of city inspectors to two different neighborhoods in a synchronized attempt to combat blight.

Ilg's report makes other recommendations:

He updated the qualifications for police department jobs, the descriptions of which have not been revised since the 1950s. A key change: recommending that all sergeants, lieutenants and captains have bachelor's degrees.

He also suggested -- although Ilg says this is a minor point in the report -- that the city police force could get by with about 323 police officers, down from its current authorized force of 420. A shortage of officers was a frequent lament by the previous police chief, Bruce P. Marquis, who was chief during the time Ilg conducted the study.

The report says that number mirrors the staffing levels in cities of similar size and scope to Hartford.

"Although there are often calls for more police, we found that in Hartford, there has been no correlation between the numbers of officers and the number of major crimes,'' Ilg wrote in an addendum to the report.

Ilg said he is curious about whether the city will take on any of his recommendations. Though in the end, he said, they are just recommendations from a guy who is an expert in management, not necessarily police.

"This was a management study from a civilian point of view,'' he said.

Ilg's Ideas

Former City Manager Albert G. Ilg's report:

* Recommends dividing city into five or six precincts staffed by police and city inspectors.

* Says police brass should be required to have bachelor's degrees.

* Concludes crime rate not necessarily related to number of police officers.

* Suggests city could get by with nearly 100 fewer cops.
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 |
Powered by Hartford Public Library  

Includes option to search related Hartford sites.

Advanced Search
Search Tips

Can't Find It? Have a Question?