A year after the Hartford Police Department began its Shooting Task Force, the department released results today/yesterday. As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, shootings and gun crimes are down.
For years, two numbers in the city's crime stats were the ones to watch -- the number of shooting incidents, and the number of shooting victims. Because, for years, those numbers either stagnated or went up.
Now, thanks to a partnership between the city and various municipal and state law enforcement agencies, both shooting victims and shooting incidents are down over 20 percent. Murders are down 40 percent. And Acting Police Chief James Rovella says his officers have solved 67 percent of the murders that have happened.
"That is staggering numbers, folks, staggering numbers."
Mayor Pedro Segarra says he hopes the numbers will correct what he says is an unfair characterization that the city is unsafe.
"This hopefully will translate and will continue to translate to eradicate the unfair perception that is oftentimes given to our city."
The shooting task force is a collaboration between municipal police, prosecutors, state police, probation officers, corrections officials and others -- agencies that haven't always worked well together. Just ask Hartford State's Attorney Gail Hardy. She says cases her prosecutors used to get from the HPD weren't always the rock-solid kinds of cases that could put a criminal away. Thanks to the shooting task force, Hardy says there's much more collaboration early on in an investigation.
"In that way, our prosecutors are able to sit down with them and give them some guidance and advice on what they need to do, how they need to prepare that report in order to make it something that will provide for a good prosecution."
The task force has funding through the fall. Rovella says he's optimistic it will continue beyond that.