Crime in Hartford is down to its lowest point in at least five years.
This fact might come as a surprise to anyone bombarded by emotional
news coverage of recent shootings in the city.
Though these news accounts report the real personal tragedies surrounding
acts of gun violence, they distort a larger truth - all serious crime
in Hartford is down by double digits from this time last year and
down from each of the past four years. In fact, there are significantly
fewer victims of violent crime this year than at any time since I
Though few news outlets have taken note, Part 1 crime statistics
reported to the FBI - including murder, rape, aggravated assault,
robbery, burglary, larceny and automobile theft - show that each
of our neighborhoods is experiencing significantly fewer incidents
of crime than were reported last year at this time.
The city has seen three more murders in the past year than the year
before. Though our murder rate this year is below the five- and 10-year
average, one murder is one too many. Additionally, even though the
total number of victims of aggravated assault has gone down from
last year, a greater percentage of victims are assaulted with firearms.
Hartford has taken a multi-pronged approach to reducing gun violence
in the city. Under Police Chief Patrick Harnett's leadership, special
city narcotics and firearms officers, with assistance from federal
agents, are targeting illegal firearms in every neighborhood. I am
working closely with the social service agencies and the Board of
Education to provide jobs and programs for our most at-risk youths.
I have called on the legislature to pass tougher laws to regulate
the second-hand gun market that provides too many guns to criminals
on the streets.
Along with Mayor John DeStefano Jr. of New Haven and Mayor John
Fabrizi of Bridgeport, I have called on the governor to provide more
state resources for summer jobs for youths, additional transition
services for ex-offenders coming out of correctional facilities into
our communities, and state police detectives to work with our undercover
drug and weapons units. We need to take a comprehensive long- term
approach to reducing gun violence, not just look for a politically
expedient quick fix.
We have made real progress in reducing crime in Hartford - and the
millions of dollars of private investment in our neighborhoods reflect
that success. That being said, we are redoubling our efforts to take
illegal guns and the people who use them off the street. If our churches,
law enforcement agencies, political leaders, social service agencies
and residents stand united to fight violence in our neighborhoods,
we can significantly enhance the safety of our residents.
Eddie A. Perez is mayor of Hartford.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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